In many ways, Jamie Roberts was a throwback to a bygone era. In the age of professionalism where rugby is everything from the moment they step into the game, he managed to combine travel and studies with success at the highest level.
Roberts might be one of rugby’s last true globetrotters, having plied his club trade on three continents but it was on the international stage that he truly made his name.
Over the course of a decade, he represented Wales 94 times and toured with the British & Irish Lions on two occasions, earning a place in the Test side on both occasions.
And even on the day he announced his retirement from professional rugby, Roberts was roped into train with Wales on their tour of South Africa, he has the best scriptwriter!
For a man who made his name as a hard-carrying centre, it is hard to believe that Roberts’ Test career started on the wing. Even the man himself has admitted that he never really had the pace to thrive out wide, but after a second cap at full-back, he settled into life in the midfield and never looked back.
That first cap came in the 2008 Six Nations, Roberts’ appearance against Scotland enough to earn him a first Grand Slam success.
By the following year he was establishing himself among the very best in the game, named Lions Player of the Series in their heart-breaking series defeat in South Africa.
In 2009, Roberts also began a run of 45 consecutive Guinness Six Nations appearances for Wales, equalling the record of the great Sir Gareth Edwards in the process.
Roberts became such a weapon for Wales, notably in a win away in Scotland that year, that opposition teams felt the need to devise entire defensive strategies about slowing him down. After seeing him wreak havoc in Edinburgh, England brought in Joe Worsley with the sole purpose of chopping Roberts down at source. The flanker never stopped tackling, but Wales still came away with the win.
Over the course of the eight years in which he featured in every Championship game, Roberts won a second Grand Slam in 2012 and another title in 2013.
That Six Nations crown came with a 30-3 win over England on Super Saturday, one of the most famous days in Welsh rugby history.
A second Lions tour followed, Roberts missing the first two Tests through injury, but coming back in for the decider in place of Brian O’Driscoll and proving his worth in a thumping victory.
As well as his international exploits, Roberts roamed from club to club, his greatest success coming early in his career with Cardiff.
A move to France and Racing 92 followed, with Roberts then moving to England where he spent time at Harlequins and Bath, while also finding the time to represent Cambridge University in the Varsity match.
Education was always an important part of Roberts’ life, studying to be a doctor and even finishing medical exams the day after completing a Guinness Six Nations campaign.
It is probably why he has always come across as a very balanced individual, a rugby great, but one who could see beyond the sport.
Spells with the Stormers in Cape Town and the Waratahs in Sydney were as much about the life experience as they were the rugby.
Roberts will go down as one of Wales’ all-time greats and a Lions legend. But he has always been so much more than just a rugby player.