Cardiff Blues star Jamie Roberts says he is determined to produce his best form during the 2010 Six Nations.
Voted Player of the Tour for his performances with the British & Irish Lions in the summer, Roberts is yet to hit those heady heights again so far this season but a change in fortunes seems to be already underway.
The 23-year-old got off to a slow start to the year in a struggling Blues side but there are now signs that he is nearing his best once more.
And while critics suggest his form for the Lions may be as good as it gets, Roberts is confident that his continued hard work will bring its rewards sooner rather than later.
“There will always be doubters out there,” said Roberts.
“I feel I am in good form and back at the top of my game, but there are always people trying to knock you down. I just get on with it, train hard and work hard.
“Things have come so quickly for me and there is pressure there to perform.
“It’s the same for any other player – you play for Wales and the Lions and that happens – and you have to deliver.
“The main thing for me is to enjoy it all. I know it’s time for me to step up and deliver now in this Six Nations. It’s the international shop window and I am at the stage now where I have to kick on and show some leadership skills.”
Wales face England at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon, with Roberts set to line up against fellow 2009 Lion Riki Flutey in midfield.
Roberts and Flutey struck up a firm friendship on tour in South Africa but the Welshman knows his English compatriot poses a real threat to his country’s hopes of beginning the Six Nations with an away win.
“Rikki is a great guy and somebody I learnt a huge amount off on the Lions tour,” added Roberts, who played in the first two Tests for the Lions, with Flutey starting the third after injury ruled the Cardiff Blues man out of contention.
“We got on really well and he taught me a lot because, compared to him, I am relatively young.
“He is a very agile guy, a very skilful player, he kicks and passes the ball well and puts other players into space.
“He is a tricky player if you don’t contain him. We have been doing our analysis and he is one of their key players and key threats.
“We will be looking to contain him, that’s for sure.”