March 17, 2020 / 3:35 PM / 15 days ago

Travel ban puts Roberts' Stormers season in doubt

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - A travel ban by the South African government could bring an early end to the season for former Wales international centre Jamie Roberts, Stormers coach John Dobson confirmed on Tuesday.

Roberts must go back to Britain before the end of April to renew his work visa, but with South Africa stopping the inbound travel of UK citizens, among a number of nations, for the foreseeable future, he may then be unable to return.

The player has decided to stay to work with the Cape Town team in the hope that the travel ban is lifted in the coming weeks, and that the Super Rugby season, which has been put on hold, resumes.

“It was on the cards that Jamie would return to the UK because he needs to get his visa renewed,” Dobson said. “But if he flew tonight, he would not be able to return, so he has decided to stay.

“He has until the end of April, but he was going to use the fact we weren’t playing this weekend to go. He won’t be flying for a while now though.”

Dobson is hopeful that the Super Rugby season will resume in time for Roberts to continue his impressive stint with the Newlands side.

“If Super Rugby resumes before June I am sure he will still play. But if he can’t go (to the UK) before the end of April, then he will return home and wouldn’t play for us if he cannot come back. It is a fluid situation.”

Dobson says his players must manage the fine balance between making sure they limit their potential exposure to the coronavirus with the need to stay fit for when, or if, the season continues.

“The safest gym is our own one because we can control the hygiene there properly...The guys can do individual work, be it catching high balls or deficit work like defensive tracking that they can do by themselves,” Dobson said.

“So no team training, but we will still be working, certainly,” he added.

Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Alexander Smith

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