WALES star Jamie Roberts believes his difficult start to life in France has made him a stronger character and he can’t wait to get to grips with Italy on Saturday, writes Andrew Penman.

The Six Nations opener at the Millennium Stadium will be Roberts’ first appearance for his country since the championship-clinching victory over England last March.

The 27-year-old Newport-born centre left the Cardiff Blues for Racing Metro last summer and, after playing his part with Wales coach Warren Gatland in the Lions’ historic series win Down Under, he was almost immediately sidelined by ankle and knee injuries.

That led him to miss the Autumn internationals but Roberts is delighted to be back and has no regrets about the move to the French capital.

“I’m loving life but the first months away from home are very hard,” he said.

“It gets quite lonely at times but you have to have the mental strength to come through that.

“It’s a different way of life and having to fend for yourself, move into a new apartment and buy all your furniture in another language is tough.

“The language side of my brain is not the best. I’m struggling a bit on that front but I’m learning off Mike Phillips, which is interesting!

“After three games I was ruled out for three months and that’s been hard as well,” he added. “Obviously you want to make an impression at a new club.

“You do that by playing good rugby so it has been a huge challenge but ultimately I’ve come through it and it’s going to make me stronger.”

And Roberts is determined to make up for lost time as Wales target a third straight Six Nations title.

“Having missed the Autumn it is very hard watching and it’s great to be back in a red shirt again,” he said.

“The Six Nations was the next big goal and I’m thrilled to be back in this Wales team.

“We know the ins and outs of our game and we’re a well oiled machine after the last two campaigns.

“We know that if we get all our players fit and firing we’re a very dangerous outfit.

“After the last two campaigns we are the favourites and we have to train like the champions and embrace that.

“Warren has spoken about having a little bit of a strut in our stride and we have to be confident and go out and walk the walk.”