Southland's Robbie Robinson heads for Harbour
Robbie Robinson stresses his decision to leave Southland for North Harbour was not about chasing the cash but instead a move to give him the best chance to get back on the rugby field.
The 24-year-old is regarded one of the more talented rugby players to come out of Southland after he captained the New Zealand secondary schools team in 2007 and impressed when he made his Stags debut as a 18-year-old in 2008.
The fullback has gone on to play 61 games for the Stags, has had stints with Super Rugby teams the Highlanders and Chiefs, and has also played for New Zealand Maori.
He has been sidelined since November last year because of a hip injury, but was recently given the green light by his surgeon to return to rugby.
Robinson's contract with Rugby Southland ended at the end of last season and he has now decided a move to play for Harbour would be the best fit for him.
He lives in Auckland, where his partner is based, a big factor in deciding to sign with Harbour.
Robinson was also keen to remain close to the Millennium Institute in Auckland, whose state-of-the-art equipment which would help his recovery.
Robinson told The Southland Times yesterday he never imagined he would play for a team other than Southland, but after talking to various people he trusted, he felt he needed to look after his own interests.
"I had to split between making a decision with my head and making a decision with my heart, and at the end of the day I had to go with my head. I'm sure there are a lot of people disappointed I didn't come back to Southland. It was a tough decision, but one I won't regret because I'm going to give my body the best chance to get it right," he said.
"The facilities down in Southland, while they have done us well over the years, there are some things that are clearly going to help my rehab [at the Millennium Institute]."
Robinson has had discussions with new Southland coach Brad Mooar, and the 2013 Super Rugby title-winning player said he would have been more than happy to work under him.
"I was down there the week before I actually found out I was able to get back into training again. I caught up with Brad and had a good chat with him. We talked but at the time was not expecting me to be able to play. We just had a good yarn, and look, I liked everything he had to say.
''That's why I thought 'sweet', I will go back down there. But in the end it just didn't turn out that way, it was nothing against them, I really like Brad and what he is already doing for the Stags."
Robinson still has some recovery to do to get back to full fitness but is targeting Harbour's round one game against Otago in Dunedin on August 16 as a potential return date.
He could then eye an interesting showdown with Southland in Albany the following Thursday.
Robinson was looking forward to the prospect of playing again.
"I'm excited and the Harbour coaching staff and management want to do everything they can to help get me back on the paddock and help me out, so I'm just really excited."
- The Southland Times
What have you made of the ITM Cup this season?