Wales 18-21 Australia, Rugby World Cup, October 21, 2011
Roberts salutes 'legend' Williams
ESPNscrum Staff
October 21, 2011
Wales wing Shane Williams dives in for a try, Rugby World Cup, Australia v Wales, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand, October 21, 2011
Shane Williams made a try-scoring farewell to the Rugby World Cup © Getty Images

Jamie Roberts paid tribute to Shane Williams after the veteran winger bowed out at the Rugby World Cup with a try in Wales' bronze medal loss to Australia on Friday.

The 34-year-old claimed his 58th touchdown in a Wales shirt - an ongoing record - during the 21-18 defeat, a result he will hope to avenge on December 3 when the Wallabies visit the Millennium Stadium in what is likely to be his Test farewell.

"It has been incredible to play alongside Shane," Roberts said. "I grew up watching him as a kid. He is an absolute legend of a bloke, and hopefully he will get to run out at the Millennium Stadium against Australia in December.

"I am disappointed for him that we finished the World Cup in the fashion we did. He's been magnificent this tournament - he's certainly a player I think everyone in world rugby admires.

"If anyone deserves it [a Millennium Stadium farewell] it's him. The input he has made to Welsh rugby over the last 13 or 14 years is unparalleled. He is probably the most exciting player of his generation, and he is an incredible man.

"We would love him to continue. He's a pretty special player, but it is whatever he decides to do - it's ultimately his decision. Whatever he decides to do, he will have the respect of the rugby world."

Roberts, meanwhile, was left to contemplate another narrow defeat after earlier tournament losses to South Africa and France - both by a point.

"To lose to South Africa by a point, France by a point and Australia by three, it just goes to show the fine lines at this level," he added. "Yes, we would have preferred to be playing on Sunday [in the Final], but when you pull on the Welsh shirt at Eden Park, there is no doubt our boys were up for that game.

"We went in at half-time 7-3 down, but we were obviously still in the game. We clawed our way back, but we missed a few crucial kicks at goal. It's such fine lines at this level - one pass here, one kick there, a missed tackle here. Little moments in games count.

"I remember the 2009 Lions [who lost a Test series to South Africa 2-1], and I remember a semi-final of the Heineken Cup a few years ago with the Blues that went to a penalty shoot-out. These last two weeks have been pretty brutal. It's a rollercoaster of emotions, I suppose."

Roberts has now turned his attention to the Six Nations and next summer's tour to Australia, where they will look for an elusive win on southern hemisphere soil.

"We will go away with a feeling that we can compete with the best in world rugby," he said. "That is a mindset to take into the match against Australia in December, the forthcoming Six Nations, the tour to Australia next summer and the next couple of years.

"If we get things right we will put teams like this away. We made too many simple errors tonight, and at this level, errors like that will lose you games. There are no excuses. We haven't beaten a southern hemisphere team down here, so that is the disappointing thing. Our next opportunity to do that comes next summer.

"To go from the elation of that Ireland (quarter-final) victory to events of the last two weeks has been emotionally very tough, but that is the fine line at this level. We need to take it on the chin and move forward."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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