More work before rest for Robbie Robinson
In some ways Robbie Robinson is looking forward to the end of the rugby season, but he still has some unfinished business to attend to.
The Stags fullback recovered from off-season surgery to be part of the Chiefs team which successfully defended its Super Rugby title.
But since taking a two-week break after the Super season, and coming back into the Southland team for the second round NPC game against Northland, Robinson hasn't had the sort of impact many were hoping.
He hasn't been playing badly, and there were some eye-catching linebreaks against Bay of Plenty, but there has been a feeling that Robinson is capable of much more.
He feels it, too.
"I'm finally finding my feet, but it's been tough. I've been a bit tired, it's mentally you sometimes struggle," Robinson said.
"The coaches here are good, they let me do the trainings that I can do. I guess with the physios and doctors helping as well I've been able to get through. The last couple of weeks have been quite tough with three games in 10 days, but that's the same for everyone.
"I'm looking forward to a decent break, but I also want to get the Stags back into the [premiership]. It would be nice to finish the season off on a high."
Robinson said he had settled at the back as he grew accustomed to the playing styles of the wings on either side of him.
Tim Cornforth, Bryan Milne, Gareth Williams-Spiers, Marty McKenzie and Keanu Kahukura have been used on the flanks this season.
"It's obviously new combinations, we are working with different players. The boys are starting to work better as a back three, which really helps. At the start we didn't really know each other, now that we've got a feel for each other, hopefully we can start getting a bit better."
Southland's five tries against North Harbour were hopefully a sign that things were starting to click for the Stags, Robinson said.
"If you look at those tries, they came pretty easy, they didn't come after 10 phases or anything. When you get front foot ball, that's how simple rugby is. It's keeping it to basics for us."
While he wasn't involved in the pre-season game against Otago, which was won convincingly by the blue and golds, Robinson said any game against the old foe was eagerly anticipated.
"I think everyone's been waiting for this game all year. It's nice to be up there, playing in the indoor stadium and not having to worry about the weather, which is nice for the backs."
Meanwhile, the Highlanders coaching staff of Jamie Joseph, Scott McLeod and Jon Preston were spectators at Stags training at Les George Oval yesterday.
The Southland Times