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Page last updated at 18:14 GMT, Sunday, 5 July 2009 19:14 UK

Roberts awarded top Lions honour

Jamie Roberts
Jamie Roberts is in just his second season as a full-time professional

Jamie Roberts has been named the 'Player of the Series' following South Africa's 2-1 Test series win over the British and Irish Lions.

The Wales centre impressed on his first Lions Tour and formed an effective midfield partnership with experienced Irish star Brian O'Drsicoll.

Lions assistant coach Warren Gatland said: "Jamie has been one of the most improved players on the tour."

And Roberts added: "I'm delighted to be named as the Player of the Series."

The 22-year-old's award is the latest accolade for a player who is only in his second season as a full-time professional.

Roberts only won the first of his 12 Wales caps during last year's Six Nations Grand Slam campaign.

The Cardiff Blues star played at full-back and wing before finding a home at inside centre for Wales, the position where he created an effective Lions partnership with outside centre O'Driscoll before the pair's tour both ended in injury.

Jamie Roberts and Brian O'Driscoll
It has been great for him to play inside Brian. Before Brian left for home I thanked him for developing Jamie so much. He just laughed and said 'I hope he hasn't learned too much'

Lions assistant coach Warren Gatland

"It has been great for him to play inside Brian," said Gatland, who is also Roberts' national coach.

"Before Brian left for home I thanked him for developing Jamie so much.

"He just laughed and said 'I hope he hasn't learned too much'.

"They formed a very strong partnership for us and they complemented each other so well."

Roberts became the youngest Lion starter when he lined-up in the first Test defeat in Durban.

"This Tour has been a brilliant experience," he said.

"And I would like to dedicate this award to the hard work and effort put in by a lot of people in the Lions' squad and management."

Roberts played in the opening two Tests before sitting out the third due to a wrist injury picked up during the defeat in Pretoria.

The vote to find the Player of the Series was conducted by Lions sponsors HSBC in conjunction with the members of the British and Irish media who have followed the tour.

Roberts led the voting, which was done after each of the 10 tour games, with England's Simon Shaw second and Ireland's Tommy Bowe third.



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