Wales centre Jamie Roberts has opened up on how being in the middle of a club-vs-country battle in 2017 denied him the opportunity to become a Test centurion.
In an interview with the Telegraph, Roberts provided further insight into the incident, which took place in the buildup to the 2 December Test between Wales and the Springboks in 2017.
Roberts had signed for Harlequins in 2015, under the premise that he would be released for all Wales Test matches, regardless of whether they fell in the official window or not.
However, as the 2 December 2017 match fell outside the window, Harlequins faced a potential points deduction due to an agreement between Premiership Rugby and the RFU, which only permitted England players to be released outside the Test window.
At that stage Roberts, widely regarded as one of the best centres in Wales rugby history, had 97 Test caps to his name, including three for the British & Irish Lions.
Roberts said that he was told if he left the Wales camp, he would never be selected again, a promise that ultimately rang true.
“It was a savage week. I spoke to Gats [Warren Gatland] and he said I was going to be on the bench as they wanted to give Hadleigh Parkes a shot. But I was going to be on the bench for my country,” Roberts told the newspaper.
“The match against the Springboks was outside the Test window but when I signed for Quins two years earlier I had insisted that I had full release for internationals in my contract. I had a side letter to my contract that was a legally binding document.
“But Quins threatened me with my job if I played for Wales outside the window. It was an awful, awful position to be in. I ended up crying all the way back down the M4 and went to Quins training the next day.
“When I reflect on my career, the following 18 months were some of the most challenging because I didn’t get picked for Wales again.”
Roberts details the incident in his new autobiography, ‘Centre Stage’.
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