Ulster forwards coach Roddy Grant says Brad Roberts has earned Wales chance

Brad Roberts has been named in the Wales squad for the upcoming Six Nations.

By Ciaran Donaghy
Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 7:00 am

The Durban-born hooker was playing in the fourth tier of All Ireland League rugby with Rainey Old Boys when he arrived in Ulster.

After helping the Magherafelt club to promotion and a string of barnstorming performances he was invited to train with Ulster.

Following some eye-catching displays Roberts was offered a professional contact with Ulster and last Autumn was called up to the Wales squad.

Brad Roberts has been named in Wales’ Six Nations squad.

He made his international debut from the bench against his native South Africa in November and Ulster forwards coach Roddy Grant believes it is a testament to his character that the hooker is now playing at the top level.

“He’s obviously a talented great player, I’m really excited for him,” said Grant.

“He has a very interesting back story, playing for Wales means a lot to him and the story behind that. He played in November and personally I’m stoked he’s back in.

“I saw the club footage and you can tell guys have it just by the way they literally move around the field.

“There was always talent there. We got him in and it’s a different game, set-piece and lineout, you can’t compare the small margins of error and he has put a lot of work in to getting that aspect of his game on point,” he added.

“The environment we have here has aided him massively, hard coaching and lots of detailed learning.”

While the backs took all the plaudits from Sunday’s win against Northampton the pack have been able to mix it with the cream of Europe this year, providing the platform for the victories at the RDS over Leinster, Clermont and the Saints.

Grant, though, warns Ulster will not be resting on their laurels.

“I’m really pleased and proud of how they (forwards) have developed, but anyone who knows me knows I’m not content,” he said.

“We’re a driven unit - I’m driven and so are the players. We are getting better.”

“Last season we were top of everything in the league and scored the most maul tries in Europe, but like any team, you live and die by your reputation and I’m aware of that as a coach and with a pack and a team.

“That means a lot when peers know your reputation. It’s slowly getting there and it’s great we can go to these teams who have huge budgets and go well, and another challenge this weekend against a tough pack - we’re still kicking on.”

With Roberts away with Wales, Rob Herring expected to be named in Ireland’s Six Nations squad and Tom Stewart injured, Ulster are down to the bare bones at hooker for games over the spring championship period.

Ballymena’s James McCormick could be the next cab of the rank.

“There’s a lot of development in him as you’d expect from guys in the Academy in their 20s,” said Grant.

“There are a lot of things to get right in the game and a lot of work to be done with him. He is part of our squad, and he has a chance, he is in the mix.

“Training is competitive in every position and anyone who is in full training is competitive. Like all the other guys, he has a way to go but he is with us and he has a shot.”