BRADLEY Roberts will wake up on game day, open the curtains, see his mum’s flat then plot the downfall of the side he grew up supporting.

The Dragons hooker will be at the heart of the effort to upset the odds against the Sharks in the United Rugby Championship this evening (kick-off 5.05pm).

The hosts have brought back their Springbok World Cup winners in a bid for a first success of the season but Roberts is used to being an underdog.

The 27-year-old from Durban played for the Sharks at age-grade level after growing up idolising the Kings Park side.

"I loved Bismarck du Plessis,” he said. “He was always the enforcer, he would take no rubbish, he was just the man. I looked up them all, they were heroes."

However, his route to becoming a five-times capped Wales international courtesy of a grandmother from Ceredigion instead took him to RGC in Colwyn Bay, Rainey Old Boys in Northern Ireland and Ulster before his move to the Dragons.

South Wales Argus: Bradley Roberts makes a tackle for the Dragons against the Sharks at Rodney Parade last seasonBradley Roberts makes a tackle for the Dragons against the Sharks at Rodney Parade last season (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

"It is a telling decision in my career,” he said about the rejection by the Sharks. “I have always been a kind of underdog, I am on the smaller side but I just needed the one coach to look at me and say that size does not really matter.

"I wanted them to see what else I could offer and I got the opportunity to do that at Ulster, and they fully backed me.”

Roberts, listed as 5ft 8ins and tipping the scales at 16st 5lbs, didn’t really fit the profile for a bruising South African front rower, even if he packs a punch when carrying.

“They just like big people in general and it is kind of similar to France. I think it's going a bit away now but it used to be we need big bulk up front,” said Roberts, nicknamed ‘Stumpy’ at the Dragons.

"When I was at Under-19s level the Sharks front row was Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis and the ‘Beast’ [Tendai Mtawarira].

“If you look at me I am nowhere near that. They were probably looking for the new Bismarck and I clearly was not that.

“[South Africa superstar wing] Cheslin Kolbe is the guy everyone looks to when talking about a small player.

“It's a bit different for me because I am right in the mixer as a front rower but I think it's an old-fashioned view that you have to look like Superman to be a rugby player.

“Teams know what works and there are loads of short hookers around, it’s a position where you can get away with that.”

Roberts might be one of professional rugby’s shorties but he stands out thanks to his dynamism with ball in hand.

South Wales Argus: FINISH: Dragons hooker Bradley Roberts raced over from 20 metres against the OspreysFINISH: Dragons hooker Bradley Roberts raced over from 20 metres against the Ospreys (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

He is one of the Dragons’ main carriers and last week raced over for a crucial try in the 20-5 derby win against the Ospreys from a cute lineout move.

“It's always been an asset, I love having ball in hand in space and I am quite a hard guy to tackle because of my size,” he said.

“You can't really make a mistake on me - tackle too high and you will hit me in the head and it will be a penalty or yellow card.

“You have to go lower than normal and some guys don't like getting in those positions. I love carrying in the loose and I know what works for me.”

Roberts must get the set-piece nuts and bolts right at Kings Park – something he has been doing so far this season – before the razzamatazz.

But if he does produce big moments then he will earn the acclaim of a fan club in the 54,000-capacity stadium, where most of the crowd will be demanding a first Sharks win of the season.

“My friends and family will be there and a lot of them haven’t seen me play in person as a professional,” he said.

“We didn’t come here with Ulster and last year we went to the Stormers and Lions, so this is the first time back in Durban.

“The Sharks have had a tough time this season but have a good squad; they haven’t clicked yet but they will be good when they do.

"We are playing them at a good time, they are under serious pressure for performances from everyone here in South Africa."

Roberts hopes that pressure will intensify with a shock away win on his home soil.