Jamie Roberts has revealed that he was faced with a “moral dilemma” before the British and Irish Lions’ third test against Australia in 2013.
Lions head coach Warren Gatland had made a massive call in deciding to drop Brian O’Driscoll for the deciding test against the Wallabies by selecting the all-Welsh centre partnership of Roberts and Jonathan Davies.
Roberts had missed the first two tests, having torn his hamstring against the New South Wales Waratahs in a warm-up match, but was deemed fit enough by Gatland to start the final test.
The former Wales centre told of the events leading up to that third test on the Lions’ official website and admitted that he was unsure if he was going to be able to last more than five minutes against the Wallabies.
Jamie Roberts on the lead up to the final Lions test.
“It was a kind of moral dilemma I was faced with for that last test. A very challenging few weeks, tearing my hamstring in that Waratahs game before the first test,” Roberts explained.
“It’s a very difficult place to be in as a player because you’ve got a coach backing you, he has picked you to play. I remember Warren came up to me in training on the Thursday.
“He’s a man of few words but he just came up to me and said, ‘Right, you going to be fit?’ I was like, ‘Yeah’, and then he walked off, when I was in actual pain, my hamstring was hurting.
“Well, I remember waking up the morning of the game thinking, geez, how am I going to play a test match later today knowing I’m in quite a lot of pain in my hamstring.”
One of @Jamiehuwroberts greatest moments on a rugby pitch almost never happened.
The Welsh centre has documented his incredible career in new autobiography #CentreStage including the agonising decision he had to make in 2013. More ?
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) December 2, 2021
‘If I come off after five minutes, it’s the most selfish decision ever.’
There had been plenty of furore in the media in regards to Brian O’Driscoll being dropped for what would have been his final test for the Lions, with Davies selected ahead of him at outside centre and Manu Tuilagi preferred on the bench.
O’Driscoll had started at outside centre in the first two tests, with Davies inside him at 12, so if Roberts had pulled out of the game the Irishman likely would have been promoted to the starting team
Roberts was still mulling over what to do on the morning of the game, and admitted that he struggled to come to a decision.
“I had been picked to play, so on one hand, it’s the biggest game in your career. Your coach is backing you to play. He’s picked you, it’s a Lions series-deciding match in Sydney,” Roberts said.
“And on the other hand, I’m in quite a lot of pain in my hamstring, do I pull out, do I play on? If I come off after five minutes, it’s the most selfish decision ever and I really, really struggled.
“I stirred over it for 24 hours, 48 hours. As I said, the morning of the game I was in quite a lot of pain, I remember going to see [physio] Prav [Mathema] and I was just like, ‘Mate, what is the strongest anti-inflammatory painkillers you can give me?’
“So after giving me that and adrenaline, fortunately, the hamstring held up and I was part of the decisive Lions-winning side in Sydney. To this day, that decision could have easily gone the other way, I could have pulled out of that match and not been a part of it.”
Roberts ultimately scored a try for the Lions in a convincing 41-16 victory, before being replaced by Tuilagi in the 69th minute.