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As Ireland and Wales prepare for their Rugby World Cup quarter-final clash in Wellington, New Zealand on Saturday, Irish captain Brian O’Driscoll has hailed fellow British and Irish Lions midfielder Jamie Roberts of Wales.

“Jamie Roberts has done well, mixing his game up well,” said O’Driscoll. “He’ll be a handful, but that’s nothing new.

“Jamie carries extremely hard, but he’s also brought in some nice subtleties. He’s not afraid to mix it up and that’s made him difficult to read.

'Jamie Roberts will be a handful, but that’s nothing new' – Brian O'Driscoll

“He’s evolved on that front, but one aspect of his game that hasn’t changed is his ability to break the gainline. Teams play off go-forward ball and he’s one of their go-to guys for that.”

Results in the final group matches, particularly Ireland’s own deserved 15–6 win over Australia, have given fans the exciting prospect of a straightforward Northern–Southern hemisphere split in the quarters and semis, which guarantees a North v South final in Auckland on October 23.

 

But first off O’Driscoll’s men have to deal with Roberts and the centre’s other highly motivated Welsh team-mates, and the Irish skipper, whose team’s unbeaten run in the group phase makes them marginal favourites, is cautiously optimistic despite Roberts’ threat, and acknowledging that “most of the Welsh squad are in good form”. 

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Roberts also praised his opposite number, with whom he played such a pivotal role in the Lions’ 2009 tour to South Africa that saw the side lose only narrowly in the first two Tests and win the third by a large margin of 28–9, with Roberts picking up the award for man of the series.

“Certainly coming up against Brian is a great test,” Roberts commented. “We are great friends, and hopefully it will a great battle come Saturday.

“It is always good to play with those guys off that tour – as I’m sure the Irish boys will agree, it was a memorable tour.

'Brian is a very tough opponent…' – Jamie Roberts

“Brian has shown great longevity in his career and he is playing at a standard which he set when he won his first cap. He is a very tough opponent and all the Irish boys are. There are some very experienced players in their ranks and it will be a very tough day for us on Saturday.”

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