JAMIE Roberts says he is returning to where he first fell in love with rugby after signing to play for the Dragons at Rodney Parade.

The 33-year-old centre has agreed to sign for the region after spending the end of last season with the Stormers in South Africa.

Roberts trained with some of his new teammates today and will be available for selection when the Guinness PRO14 returns with a trip to the Ospreys on Sunday, August 23.

The Wales and Lions powerhouse is a Cardiff Blues legend but was born in Newport and was briefly raised in the city before moving to the capital.

He is excited by the chance to be in the home changing room at Rodney Parade with the Dragons after being taken to watch the Black and Ambers as a youngster.

 

 

“Before playing through the junior ranks in Cardiff from the age of 15, my love for the game was born on the terraces of Rodney Parade,” he said.

“My dad, Norman, has been a lifelong Newport Rugby supporter and for many years my brother and I would frequent the terraces on weekends and harness our love for the game I’ve been so fortunate to play professionally.

“No one would be prouder than him that I’m coming to represent the rugby supporters of Gwent.

“There has always been something very special about a packed out Rodney Parade and it’s something I’m looking forward to experiencing first hand on the pitch this season.”

The centre left Cardiff Blues for Racing 92 in 2013 and moved from France to England to play for Harlequins and then Bath.

He left the Rec for a brief spell in South Africa with the Stormers and is now returning to Wales to slot in between Sam Davies and Nick Tompkins in the Dragons’ back line.

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He said: “When I left Wales in 2013 to play my rugby outside my home country, I always promised myself that I’d endeavour to return and play in Wales again.

“Having had some wonderful experiences playing across three of the world’s top leagues in France, England and South Africa, I’m delighted to return to Wales to play with the Dragons and compete once again in the Guinness PRO14 and next season’s Champions Cup.

“I’m sincerely grateful for having this opportunity, especially given the current climate we find ourselves in.”

The Dragons have Jack Dixon, Adam Warren, Connor Edwards and up-and-coming Aneurin Owen as other midfield options along with Tompkins, who will spend the year at Rodney Parade on loan from Saracens.

Roberts intends to make a big impact on the field but also wants to help off it.

“I’m very proud and grateful to have achieved a lot of what I set out to achieve in the game and now is a perfect time for me to help many of these young Dragons achieve theirs, as a collective and individually,” he said.

“When I sat down with Dean (Ryan, director of rugby) and looked through the Dragons squad, it was evident that there is enormous potential amongst the playing group.

“Although a handful are established internationals, a significant number of the group are not far off that level and I hope any experience I may be able to pass on can help them fulfil their potential.”