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Roberts has hit his best form in the centre for Racing Metro this season.
Roberts has hit his best form in the centre for Racing Metro this season.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Warren Gatland will not be happy that one of his biggest stars has decided to play in England

The Welsh boss had been hopeful that Jamie Roberts would move back to Wales.
May 18th 2015, 11:43 AM 8,448 1

WHAT’S THIS? ONE of Wales’ biggest stars is openly flaunting Gatland’s law?

Last year, Wales moved to a dual contract system where the Welsh rugby union would part fund the salaries of some of the nation’s best players, under the proviso that you needed to play in the country to be selected in the red jersey.

However, much like England’s ‘exceptional circumstances’ rule, Gatland can continue to pick certain overseas players – if they are good enough.

That is why Jonathan Davies will continue to play for Clermont, and why centre Jamie Roberts today announced that he will leave Racing Metro at the end of the season, but join Harlequins instead of a Welsh region.

“I’m delighted to have signed for Harlequins,” Roberts said in a statement on the Quins website.

“Having played in Cardiff and in Paris, moving to London is a chance for me to experience and further develop my career in a different league. “I’m also delighted and feel very privileged to have been accepted to study a Masters degree (MPhil) in Medical Science (surgery) at Cambridge University and look forward to furthering my education part-time alongside my professional playing career. That balance in my life has served me well in the past and I’m excited to start this new chapter in London.”

After a disappointing season where Quins finished eighth, Conor O’Shea has recruited well ahead of next season, bringing in Roberts, Scotland wing Tim Visser, Aussie second row James Horwill and Welsh prop Adam Jones.

Roberts has been in particularly good form this year, probably putting together his most consistent string of club displays this decade.

And you can’t blame Warren Gatland for bending his rules to allow players like Roberts and Davies to play abroad and for Wales. It is a lot easier to cast away big names when you are Stuart Lancaster and can pick from England’s vast playing base.

It also looks like Taulupe Faletau has turned down a dual contract, and will likely move away from Wales after next season.

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Will Slattery

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