Super Rugby

Coronavirus | Stormers centre fears for SA townships

Jamie Roberts (Gallo Images)
Jamie Roberts (Gallo Images)

The Stormers' Welsh centre Jamie Roberts, who is also a qualified medical doctor, has expressed his concern over the coronavirus pandemic in South Africa.

Roberts, 33, studied at Cambridge University and has regularly practised medicine alongside his rugby career.

The burly midfielder joined the Stormers ahead of this year's Super Rugby season and is now stuck here because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"The main worry in South Africa is the quality of the healthcare system and people’s access to it," Roberts said in an interview with the Mail Online website.

"I've only been here a few months. You just hope something as fast-spreading as coronavirus doesn't get into the townships. That's the biggest worry here.

"There was a big announcement by the president [Cyril Ramaphosa] on Sunday that they are closing the borders to people from high-risk countries. I was thinking of nipping back to Wales in April, but I can't do that now because I wouldn't be allowed back into South Africa."

Stormers coach John Dobson confirmed earlier this week that that Roberts had decided to stay in Cape Town for the time being.

"No, he is not (going back). It was on the cards because he had to get his visa renewed. Obviously, if he flew tonight, he would not be able to return. So he has decided to stay," Dobson told reporters at the Stormers' High Performance Centre (HPC) in Bellville on Tuesday.

Dobson said Roberts has until the end of April to renew his visa, but would do so at a later stage.

"He was going to use the fact that we weren't playing this weekend. He would have had to fly tonight because of our own international travel ban. So he won't be flying for a while now.

"If Super Rugby resumes before June, I am sure he will play for us. I know that he had to go and get his visa by the end of April. If he can't go by then, then he is entitled to return home. In which case, he would not return to us because he would not be allowed."

Roberts, who played 94 Tests for Wales and three for the British and Irish Lions, was drafted in by the Stormers this season as a replacement for Damian de Allende.

- Compiled by Herman Mostert