Wales midfielder Jamie Roberts says his brief experience with the Stormers helped him understand how Vodacom Super Rugby has helped the Springboks and All Blacks dominate Test rugby.
Roberts has returned to Wales and his home town of Newport after signing for the Dragons following his stint with the Stormers, which was cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
A high-profile acquisition, Roberts started all six of the Stormers’ Super Rugby matches but still managed to gain some valuable insight into southern hemisphere rugby.
In a wide-ranging interview with Wales Online, the 33-year-old said the fast tempo of your average Super Rugby game has given South African and New Zealand players the ball skills needed to exploit space out wide.
‘Down there it’s more one on one collisions and you can use your footwork and offload a bit more,’ Roberts told Wales Online.
‘There’s more space in Super Rugby because the speed of ball and the pitch is quicker. Players’ hand speed is quicker so you have to defend the full width of the pitch. When you have to do that space opens up in the middle of the park. The collisions are one on one, not one into two like they are up north. If you defend too narrow down there they just go pass, pass, pass and score in the corner.
‘The style of rugby there gives you the opportunity to use your foot work in the middle of the park.
‘I think I’m a better all-round player, it’s a case of continuing to develop and improve as a player,’ Roberts added. ‘Super Rugby allowed me to do that a bit better because there’s a bit more space on the field compared to in the Premiership, where you end up running into about three players.’
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images