Aviva Premiership
Roberts eyes fly-half berth
ESPNscrum Staff
August 4, 2011
Butch James, who missed three kicks during the game, lines up a kick at goal, Toulouse v Bath, Heineken Cup, Stade Ernest Wallon, October 12 2008.
Paul Roberts has been in the shadow of Butch James in the past but hopes to step into the spotlight this season for the West Country side © Getty Images

Bath fly-half Paul Roberts insists his apprenticeship has run its course and admits there will be no excuses if he is not challenging the big-boys for a first team jersey this season.

As skipper Roberts will lead the Bath charge at the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series final in London on Friday night but it is Premiership rugby that tops his 2011-12 agenda.

Roberts spent last year training in and around the first team squad - and picking the brains of established names Butch James, Sam Vesty and Olly Barkley - but has just one substitute appearance to his name. The 21-year-old will have a golden opportunity to impress the Bath coaching hierarchy at the Stoop on Friday night when his side look to down reigning champions Saracens and lift the Sevens title.

And while the 'A'-league has been his regular hunting ground in a Bath jersey to date, Roberts insists it's high time his Premiership appearance tally started racking up. "The team is all really excited for the Sevens on Friday night," said Roberts. "Hopefully we can play well there and then I can go on and have a good season.

"I am really hoping to push on this season and really get myself some game time in the first team. I have had a couple of years in and around the first team and the coaches have put in a lot of work developing me.

"It is now time that I show people that I have learned what I have been taught and hopefully get quite a few first team appearances. Olly Barkley has been really good with me even though he has been out injured and Sam Vesty has helped a lot too."

Roberts is the first to admit the Bath squad were the surprise package in qualifying for the finals night in Twickenham, booking their spot despite a sluggish start at the Rec - they lost their opening game 24-5 to Harlequins.

However the 21-year-old believes their laboured opening was caused by a initial lack of belief, a problem that has most certainly been remedied as they look to end Friday on top of the pile. "We didn't know what to expect at the qualifying round because there were a lot of lads who had pretty much just come to the clubs from school and were playing for Bath for the first time," added Roberts.

"But once we got going we could see we had a lot of good players and played some good rugby so we are going to the Stoop confident and aiming to try and win the competition."

Tickets for the final of the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s Series at the Twickenham Stoop are available through Ticketmaster on 0844 847 2492 or can be purchased at the ground on the night

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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