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Page last updated at 15:27 GMT, Friday, 26 June 2009 16:27 UK

Roberts relishing Burger battle

SOUTH AFRICA v BRITISH & IRISH LIONS
Date: Saturday, 27 June Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria Kick-off: 1400 BST (1500 local time)
Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live & online and score updates on BBC Sport website
Rugby Union on the BBC


Jamie Roberts
Roberts caused the Springboks major problems in the first Test

British and Irish Lions centre Jamie Roberts says he is ready for special attention from recalled South Africa flanker Schalk Burger in Pretoria.

Roberts' thrilling partnership with Brian O'Driscoll just failed to give the Lions a comeback first Test win.

That leaves many believing that Burger will be used to neutralise Roberts, as Joe Worsley did in the Six Nations.

"I see that talk as a compliment to myself, we have got some tricks up our sleeves," said Wales' Roberts, 22.

"We just need to box clever, use the right moves at the right times.

"[The O'Driscoll] partnership has gone really well and one of the reasons is that we communicate well on and off the pitch.

"[South Africa] will have analysed the game last week and seen a lot of half breaks and line breaks from myself and Brian. I am sure they won't be best pleased about their defence.

606: DEBATE

"They will have worked hard on that and we will have less space this week but that means there is space elsewhere."

Cardiff Blues star Roberts returns to Pretoria's Loftus Versfeld 12 months after making his first international start at inside centre for Wales against South Africa, having played on the wing in the 2008 Six Nations.

His imposing 6ft 3in, 16st 11lb frame has since wreaked havoc on opposing midfield defences, notably in Wales' 13-26 victory over Scotland in the opening game of this year's Six Nations.

That prompted England to employ Worsley in something of a man-marking role when they visited Cardiff, the flanker neutralising Roberts with a superb defensive performance that helped win him a Lions squad place.

Wales and Lions coach Warren Gatland sees the selection of the imposing Burger - who missed the first Test because of injury - in the same light.

But he is confident that the Springbok hard-man - who will be winning his 50th cap - can be countered in a match that the Lions must win to retain their hopes of a victorious series.

Schalk Burger chops down Wales' Gavin Henson
Burger is set to win his 50th cap for South Africa

"They [South Africa] are obviously concerned about the centre partnership and what a fantastic tour Jamie Roberts has had and he has caused the South Africans a lot of problems in that midfield," said Gatland.

"I think Jamie has got better game by game. He is a much improved player from the Six Nations.

"His partnership with Brian O'Driscoll has flourished, he has taken on more responsibility and he is playing with a huge amount of confidence."

Roberts, whose understanding with O'Driscoll has been boosted by their sharing a room on the tour, issued a rallying call to the Lions to go all out for victory.

"Our backs are against the wall, it is the ultimate challenge in rugby to come from 1-0 down in a Test series," said Roberts.

"We need start the game [as] we finished the first Test with that intensity and speed of ball.

"We need to be tactically sound and take our chances. Clinical is the key word."


South Africa: F Steyn (Sharks); JP Pietersen (Sharks), A Jacobs (Sharks), J de Villiers (Stormers), B Habana (Bulls); R Pienaar (Sharks), F du Preez (Bulls); T Mtawarira (Sharks), B du Plessis (Sharks), J Smit (Sharks), B Botha (Bulls), V Matfield (Bulls), S Burger (Stormers), J Smith (Cheetahs), P Spies (Bulls).
Replacements: C Ralepelle (Bulls), D Carstens (Sharks), A Bekker (Stormers), D Rossouw (Bulls), H Brussow (Cheetahs), J Fourie (Lions), M Steyn (Bulls).

British and Irish Lions: R Kearney (Leinster and Ireland); T Bowe (Ospreys and Ireland), B O'Driscoll (Leinster and Ireland), J Roberts (Cardiff Blues and Wales), L Fitzgerald (Leinster and Ireland); S Jones (Scarlets and Wales), M Phillips (Ospreys and Wales); G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues and Wales), M Rees (Scarlets and Wales), A Jones (Ospreys and Wales), S Shaw (Wasps and England), P O'Connell (Munster and Ireland, capt), T Croft (Leicester and England), D Wallace (Munster and Ireland), J Heaslip (Leinster and Ireland).
Replacements: R Ford (Edinburgh and Scotland), A Sheridan (Sale Sharks and England), AW Jones (Ospreys and Wales), M Williams (Cardiff Blues and Wales), H Ellis (Leicester and England), R O'Gara (Munster and Ireland), S Williams (Ospreys and Wales).

Referee: Christophe Berdos (France)



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see also
South Africa 28-25 Lions
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Prop failings cost Jones - Thomas
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Habana plays down altitude factor
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Springboks recall flanker Burger
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Lions can square series - Roberts
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Earls partnership excites Roberts
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Lions in South Africa
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History of the Lions
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Lions history in pictures
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Scrum V's rugby history
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Mighty Boks: South African rugby
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Country profile: South Africa
21 Jun 11 |  Country profiles
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
Lions squad selector
07 May 09 |  Rugby Union
2009 Lions: Squad & results
09 Jul 09 |  Rugby Union


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