Wales legend Jamie Roberts has revealed his biggest regret from his illustrious rugby career.
Having forged a path as something of a rugby renaissance man, sampling life in various countries and representing a host of prestigious sides, it might come as something of a surprise that Roberts still holds a regret from his career.
However, in an interview with the Times, he revealed that turning down a move abroad in 2017 was the one thing he wishes he’d done differently.
“Not taking the opportunity to go and play in Japan in 2017,” was his brief answer when asked for his one regret.
It’s a move that Roberts has referred to previously, although never has he publicly labelled it his ‘one regret’.
In his recent autobiography, Centre Stage, he revealed that he turned down a move to Japanese outfit Kobe Steelers in order to stay at Harlequins in order to keep his hopes of winning more Wales caps alive.
However, as he explained in a section of the book serialised by WalesOnline earlier this year, it didn’t quite turn out like that.
Speaking about the decision to return to his employers in England rather than take part in the out-of-window Test against South Africa in the autumn of 2017, Roberts wrote: “I will never forgive (Harlequins CEO, David) Ellis or the Quins board for railroading me into that decision. I’d signed the contract in good faith, but when push came to shove it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.
“It pains me to this day that I buckled and gave in. To make matters worse, Hadleigh Parkes had an absolute stormer, scoring a brace of tries on his debut, while I watched on helplessly from my distant London flat.
“The following March, I sat in (Quins coach) John Kingston’s office listening to him explain the reasons why Quins weren’t going to re-sign me.
“They’d signed the All Blacks centre Francis Saili and had little room left in the budget. His exact words were ‘if I told you what we could offer you you’d be insulted, so I’m not going to bother’.
“I’d declined a big-money move to Kobe Steelers in Japan, and turned my back on my country, and for what?
“If time is a healer, a good deal of water is yet to pass under this bridge. The animosity runs deep to this day.
“It was always impossible to make a rational, clear-headed decision in a situation like the one I faced, but I know now that I made the wrong one.
“I should have stayed with Wales.”
Roberts also revealed his childhood hero in the interview with the Times – with his chosen icon not hailing from the sport he’d end up making a career out of.
Instead, it was the legendary French footballer Eric Cantona who Roberts looked up to when growing up.
“I was a big Manchester United fan and there was something about him I just loved,” he admitted.
“I thought his swagger and confidence was so cool — not that I had any of that when I played.”