Centre Jamie Roberts believes he is reenergised at Dragons and playing some of the best rugby of his career, writes Gavin Barrett.
The 94-timed-capped Welsh international has turned heads this season with his performances for Dean Ryan’s men, with many commentators insisting he is back to his best.
Roberts most recent performance against Ospreys saw him make the Guinness PRO14 Team of the Week - the only player to feature from a losing team.
With 11 carries for 77 metres, 13 tackles and a try Roberts almost got the Dragons over the line.
And the man himself admits he is enjoying his rugby in Gwent.
“My main priority here is to play as well as I can and help the Dragons win rugby games,” said the Newport-born Roberts.
“I’m confident in my game at the minute, I feel like I’m playing well, I’m enjoying my rugby and hopefully I’m contributing to the side.
“I guess as part of my remit as well, is to help bring others through and I think I do that by playing well first and foremost, but also make sure those youngsters are developing as people and developing as rugby players.
“I feel 26 again,” he continued. “I think the break has given me a good rest.
“I reenergised myself and feel like I’m playing as well now as I was in my mid to late twenties - I firmly believe age is but a number."
The Men of Gwent headed into the derby period after back-to-back away wins against Benetton Rugby and Glasgow Warriors.
However, they suffered three battling losses in the festive derby calendar matches, that leaves them fourth in Conference A, eight points behind the Ospreys with a game in hand.
With the Heineken Champions Cup now temporarily suspended, the Dragons have a break before heading into PRO14 action once again.
Director of Dragons Rugby Ryan insists his side have plenty of work ahead of them before the resumption of league hostilities.
And senior figure Roberts echoes that sentiment, admitting Dragons need to produce 80-minute performances to get back to winning ways.
He said: “When we have performed for 80-minutes we’ve won games and over this derby period we haven’t played well enough for 80 minutes.
“We’ve played well in patches, but that’s not good enough. We have to be harsh in our critique and go again.”
The next block of fixtures will be vital to the Rodney Parade outfit, with Dragons facing successive Friday night home games with Connacht and Edinburgh.
And former British and Irish Lion Roberts is keen to secure a lofty league position that will ensure more top tier European action.
“We want to play in the Champions Cup next season, we are privileged to play in it this year,” said the centre. “Our focus now is to be high enough in the table to play in it again next year.
“This next block of league games will be huge for us and probably playing against sides that lose players to international rugby, in Edinburgh and Connacht.
“I’m not sure how many we will lose but they are going to be massive games for us in the context for next season.”
I reenergised myself and feel like I’m playing as well now as I was in my mid to late twenties - I firmly believe age is but a number...