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Auckland trip after all for Roberts.

JAMIE Roberts has admitted that he was "as disappointed as any player" who missed out on selection for the New Zealand-bound British and Irish Lions squad.

But the Harlequins centre will still be heading to Auckland next month, having been appointed Wales captain for Tests against Tonga and Samoa.

Wales face Tonga at Eden Park on June 16 - the game a curtainraiser for the All Blacks' Lions series warm-up clash against Samoa - before heading to Apia the following Friday and an appointment with the Samoans.

Roberts had been touted in some quarters to be chosen for a third successive Lions tour, after starring in South Africa eight years ago and in Australia in 2013, but did not make the cut.

"You are disappointed not to make a Lions squad, and I was as disappointed as any player who missed out on it," he said. "You mope around for about a day, and you dust yourself off and get back to training and playing your best.

"That motivation will always be there, but the focus now is on Wales and winning two games and preparing the team as best as possible. "There is a great talent pool in Wales, and with one eye on 2019 (World Cup) it's about making sure these players step up to the plate and develop quickly."

Roberts, who has won 91 caps, will lead a 32-man Wales squad featuring 13 uncapped players, with many of them having come through the Under-20s system.

Wales, who are without 12 players selected for the Lions squad, travel with a group comprising 14 backs and 18 forwards.

"It (the captaincy) is a huge honour, not just for me but for my family," Roberts said.

"I am excited for the young players in the squad. It's an opportunity for them to experience that Test environment and know what it's about at that level.

"And I think a lot of the senior players in the group who maybe haven't had the chance to play in the last couple of years, now have the chance to step up and lead this team."

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Wales centre Jamie Roberts

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:8WEST
Date:May 10, 2017
Words:355
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