Surprise recruit to pull Tahs out of the mire

4 months ago 86
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He has only been in Sydney for a week but already Waratahs coach Darren Coleman is lauding the influence of Welsh great Jamie Roberts.

The 35-year-old, 97 Test centre farewelled Dragons fans late last month after being granted an early release from the Newport club.

Roberts' partner is from Sydney and the Waratahs came calling after injuries to young midfielders Joey Walton and Mosese Tuipulotu left NSW short in that department.

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Jamie Roberts farewells Dragons fans at Rodney Parade in Newport. (Getty)

"It's awesome, we sort of stumbled across that one," said first-year coach Coleman, who has inherited a Waratahs side that failed to win a single game last season.

"Having done that season in LA (with the MLR-winning Giltinis last year) it did hit home the importance of having good mentors and leaders, having Matt Giteau and Adam-Ashley Cooper as well as Dave Dennis.

"The effect is really deep and something you don't realise as a coach."

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Jamie Roberts of Dragons is tackled by Jordan Larmour of Leinster. (Getty)

Roberts' world class ability to carry over the advantage line will take considerable on-field pressure off young playmakers Ben Donaldson and Will Harrison.

But his influence is likely to be even more important off the park.

"A big part of his role is going to be teaching these young guys how to be a professional and how to back up the mental side of the game," Coleman said.

New Waratahs coach Darren Coleman. (Getty)

"I've only known him for a short time but he's impressed me.

"He's a highly intelligent bloke, he's got an MBA from Cambridge, he's a switched on dude and good bloke who's fitted into this group perfectly.

"We've already got three or four young centres hanging off every word he says so he'll be good for the group."

Jamie Roberts scores for the Lions against the Wallabies in 2013. (Getty)

Roberts will compete with Wallabies Izaia Perese and Lalakai Foketi for a starting midfield spot as the Waratahs prepare for their season opener against Fijian Drua on February 18.

"Don't be mistaken, he's still a competitor and wants to be here," Coleman said.

"He's not coming here to ride the pine or not get picked, he wants to be in the team and wants to win.

"He'll get a run this week up at Roma (in a trial against the Reds) and if he handles the heat, we'll see how he goes after that."

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