Stormers and former Wales centre Jamie Roberts says a main worry amid the coronavirus threat is the quality of South Africa’s healthcare system and people’s access to it.
Roberts was scheduled to travel back to the United Kingdom to renew his visa, which is set to expire at the end of April.
But as a UK citizen, he would not be allowed back into South Africa, due to the country closing its borders to all foreign nationals from countries that are high risk with Covid-19. That would have meant that the Stormers would’ve been without their one of most experienced players until after the travel ban is lifted by government.
However, it has since been confirmed by Stormers coach John Dobson that the 33-year-old decided to stay in the country and would sort out his visa at a later stage.
In a candid interview with MailOnline, Roberts talked about his biggest fears surrounding coronavirus.
‘There was a big announcement by the president on Sunday that they are closing the borders to people from high-risk countries,’ Roberts said.
‘I was thinking of nipping back to Wales in April, but I can’t do that now because I wouldn’t be allowed back into South Africa.
‘There are still huge question marks over whether Super Rugby will get finished. I think it’s unrealistic to envisage us playing for another three or four weeks and by that time you are into mid-April.’
‘The main worry in South Africa is the quality of the healthcare system and people’s access to it. I’ve only been here a few months. You just hope something as fast spreading as coronavirus doesn’t get into the townships. That’s the biggest worry here.’
Roberts is a former British & Irish Lion and was part of the elite squad that toured South Africa in 2009. He has now revealed he would love to remain in South Africa until next season in order to be able to play against the Lions, who is set to tour here in 2021.
The local Vodacom Super Rugby franchises are scheduled to play warm-up games against the Lions between 3 and 17 July.
‘Being a rugby romantic and having been on that tour in 2009, it would be pretty cool to get the chance to play against the Lions in South Africa,’ Roberts commented.
‘We are having conversations about maybe doing that. The opportunity to keep on the adventure and maybe experience America or Japan would also be awesome.
‘There are a few options to mull over, but I’ve got to make those decisions for the right reasons. When I reflect, rugby has given me so much opportunity.’
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images