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Here’s to you, Mr Robinson: Tahs veterans take inspiration from Benn

IF THE statistics that mattered were age and the number of Test caps won, Wallabies prop Benn Robinson would be the one looking to his Waratahs teammates Al Baxter and Phil Waugh for inspiration.But in the aftermath of the Wallabies’ tour of Europe, it is now Baxter and Waugh who regard Robinson as a perfect example from which to draw motivation. The pair still firmly believe in their own Test futures, despite being omitted from the tour; and both have been buoyed by the private talks they have had with Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.”I have been pretty clear with my goals and my ambitions. He [Deans] has been very open and very supportive of my ambitions,” Waugh said at yesterday’s unveiling of the 2010 Waratahs strips. ”The call they made [non-selection] was [for] being injured for the first couple of games.”From that moment it was all about me having a good 2010 and rejoining the group in June.”Baxter, a specialist tighthead prop, said he was told by Deans: ”This is not the end of your Test career. You are still very much in the he frame.”Both players agree that Robinson’s transformation from a player omitted from the 2007 World Cup squad and who had to fight his way back into the Waratahs side by playing for the NSW A team in 2008 to becoming the world’s top loosehead prop, is an example to follow.Waugh, 30 and with 79 Wallabies caps to his name, said Robinson, 25 and with 31 caps, has the ability to enjoy a long reign as the world’s premier prop. ”It’s exciting. He works hard. He will be the first to admit that he can work harder, which is exciting. And he is only 25, and for props that is relatively young,” the openside breakaway said.”He just has to keep fit and get fitter, [keep] doing what he is doing and keep being dominant in his position. He is one of the standout rugby union players in the world at the moment.”He had belief in himself and people around him believed in him, which is important. But he kept playing hard, whether it was for Eastwood, NSW A or when he got back to the Waratahs. He has come a long way in 18 months.”Baxter, 32 and with 69 Test caps, believes Robinson’s return from Wallabies wilderness has helped to make the loosehead a better player.”If he had not missed the World Cup and gone as a reserve then not be dropped by ‘Link’ [former Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie] he might have been happy to bubble along like that,” he said.”The challenge [of] getting back in makes everyone a better player. Those things did a lot for his career. He fought hard, worked very hard and came back better than he was before.”❏ Wallabies and NSW No.8 Wycliff Palu leads the 2010 John Eales Medal vote score after the first of two stages of a progressive count to precede next October’s unveiling of the final score.After the spring tour, Palu has 113 votes. Matt Giteau has 102, David Pocock 86, Will Genia 72, and Adam Ashley-Cooper 52.❏ Wallabies tourist and back-rower Dave Dennis has re-signed with the Waratahs for two more years after starting the spring tour with his playing future in doubt.❏ Tony Dempsey will retire as the Rugby Union Players’ Association head at the end of the month after working for the organisation for 15 years – nine of them in the top job.
Nanjing Night Net