IT'S nearly crunch time for Jamie Roberts, and not in terms of helping the Dragons in their bid for back-to-back Champions Cup campaigns.

The former Wales and Lions centre is likely to lead the charge in the rearranged Guinness PRO14 fixtures against Connacht and Edinburgh at the start of February – as long as he's not called to more important supporting role elsewhere.

The 34-year-old and fiancée Nicole Ramson will soon become parents with no certainty over this 'kick-off' time.

"It's five or six weeks away now," said Roberts after last Saturday's derby defeat to the Ospreys. "I always though wait until Christmas and the New Year, then start focusing on it.

"My brother was born five weeks early so I am a little bit nervous! Nicole is doing well and it's an exciting time that will really change me as a bloke, no doubt. I can't wait."

Like all new parents since March, the coronavirus pandemic has thrown a spanner in the works.

"I haven't been in for the scans," said Roberts. "There was a midwife appointment on Friday and I wasn't allowed to go, she had a scan a few months back and I wasn't allowed to go.

"I am just trying to understand now what happens with the birth; I think that I am allowed to be in from four centimetres dilated until two hours after the birth.

"That's it, two hours and they ship me out. Nicole can hopefully enjoy the champagne on her own!"

Roberts hopes that there will also be good reason for the corks to be popping at Rodney Parade at the end of the PRO14 campaign.

The Dragons are in Europe's top tier in 2020/21 and want to stay there with the three sides from each conference guaranteed entry.

Dean Ryan's side currently sit fourth in Conference A – a spot that earned qualification to this season's expanded Champions Cup but normally would have meant a play-off – and they are eight points back on the Ospreys with a game in hand.

Free Press Series:

"We want to play in the Champions Cup next season. We are privileged to play in it this year and that home defeat against Wasps was tough to take and put us on the back foot," said the centre.

"Our focus is to be high enough in the league to play Champions Cup next year and this next block is going to be huge for us.

"We will be playing against sides who lose a lot of players to international rugby. They are massive games for us in the context of next season."

Dragons supporters will be encouraged that the centre, who won 94 caps for Wales and three more for the Lions, is talking about 2021/22.

He arrived on a one-year contract in August after the end of his spell in South Africa with the Stormers and discussions over a fresh deal are sure to take place.

Roberts and flanker Harrison Keddie have been the Dragons' star performers of the campaign with the 34-year-old showing the same bulldozing form that made him a talisman for Warren Gatland's Wales.

He said: "I feel 28 again… let's say 26! I guess that little Covid break reenergised me and feel I am playing as well now as in my mid to late-20s. Age is but a number!"

"My main remit is to play as well as I can and help the Dragons win rugby games.

"I am playing well and I am confident in my game at the minute. I am enjoying my rugby and hopefully I am contributing to the side.

"I guess my other remit is to help bring others through and I will do that by playing well first and foremost, showing the way on the pitch.

"But I also will try and make sure the youngsters are developing as people and rugby players."