JAMIE Roberts is relishing the chance to captain his country after getting over the disappointment of missing out on the Lions squad for New Zealand, writes Chris Kirwan.
The centre will captain Wales in their June Tests against Tonga and Samoa after Warren Gatland left him out of the 41-strong group to tackle the All Blacks.
Roberts was the Lions’ man of the series in South Africa in 2009 and helped beat Australia four years ago but this summer will instead be pulling on the red jersey of Wales against Tonga in Auckland and Samoa in Apia.
“You are disappointed not to make a Lions squad, and I was as disappointed as any player who missed out on it,” he said.
“You mope around for about a day, and you dust yourself off and get back to training hard and playing your best.
“That motivation will always be there, but the focus now is on Wales and winning two games and preparing the team as best as possible.
“There is a great talent pool in Wales, and with one eye on 2019 (World Cup) it’s about making sure these players step up to the plate and develop quickly.”
Roberts, who has won 91 caps, will lead a 32-man Wales squad that features 13 uncapped players.
“They will be tough games, and certainly the match at Eden Park will be pretty special,” said Roberts. “To play before the All Blacks will be special, and we know from the past how tough Samoa are. It will be two tough games without our Lions, and I can’t wait to get stuck in.”
Forwards: Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Adam Beard (Ospreys), Kristian Dacey (Cardiff Blues), Seb Davies (Cardiff Blues), Ryan Elias (Scarlets), Rob Evans (Scarlets), Tomas Francis (Exeter), Ollie Griffiths (Newport Gwent Dragons), Cory Hill (Newport Gwent Dragons), Ellis Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Wyn Jones (Scarlets), James King (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues), Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Rory Thornton (Ospreys), Thomas Young (Wasps).
Backs: Cory Allen (Cardiff Blues), Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Aled Davies (Scarlets), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Sam Davies (Ospreys), Steff Evans (Scarlets), Keelan Giles (Ospreys), Tyler Morgan (Newport Gwent Dragons), Jamie Roberts (captain, Harlequins), Owen Williams (Leicester), Rhun Williams (Cardiff Blues), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Tomos Williams (Cardiff Blues).