Struggling Racing-Metro have been given a boost with news that Welsh centre Jamie Roberts is finally ready to play again after a 12-week injury absence.
The barn-storming back sustained a ligament tear in his left ankle, and has had to watch as his team has struggled despite a raft of big-name signings including Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton and Welsh teammates Dan Lydiate and, more recently, Mike Phillips.
“I found it very hard,” the 27-year-old said of being banished to the stands.
“I got the injury in only my third game for the club, I was just starting to find my feet on the pitch, beginning to pick up all the calls and so forth, and to get injured at that time was a real blow.
“But as tough as it has been, I have tried to look at it positively: over the past three or four years I have played a lot of rugby, it’s been pretty much non-stop, so the only way to look at my injury was as a rest in disguise.
“But now I’m ready to go again, really looking forward to putting my boots back on and winning with this team,” Roberts told racing-metro92.com.
Racing went down 32-8 to Harlequins in European Cup action on the weekend, a result that saw the Parisian club’s officials move a Top 14 match against Toulon they wanted to play at the Stade de France back to their much more modest Colombes stadium.
“Everyone is just vastly disappointed,” Roberts said of the defeat to the London club, who they play in the second of the back-to-back matches at the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday.
“We came second-best in every aspect of the game, and we all know that it is not good enough. It is hard for me to comment on the match because I wasn’t on the pitch.
“But with the calibre of players we’ve got, our fans deserve much better. As a player, there are a lot of things I would like to say, but I don’t feel I have the right at the moment because I haven’t been involved. I just hope that I can contribute to the team this weekend in a positive way.”
Roberts, a stand-out performer in the last two British and Irish Lions’ tours to South Africa and Australia, said the squad would, however, travel to London “with confidence”.
“It’s our only option,” he insisted. “Because we can’t just go over there and fold. On Saturday there were glimpses of some attacking promise, and our pattern is starting to come together.
“But we have to be more accurate, defend better, and just stay mentally focused. It’s as simple as that: stay focused, do the right things, make the right calls at the right time. And hopefully our quality will shine through.”