Robbie Robinson is ready to fight his way back into the Chiefs' starting lineup on a regular basis and is eyeing Friday night's return showdown with his old Highlanders team as the stage to do it.
Robinson started the first six matches of the Super Rugby season for the Chiefs at fullback and made his mark with some scintillating attacking play.
But when his game went slightly off the boil, the coaches didn't hesitate to give Hawke's Bay's Andrew Horrell – originally selected as the backup five-eighth – his opportunity in South Africa against the Cheetahs.
Horrell was an instant hit in the 15 jersey and, with Robinson picking up calf and groin injuries at training, Horrell hung on to it for the next five games.
That meant Robinson had started the first six games and Horrell the next six, with Robinson getting back on the bench for the Reds match in Brisbane on May 13.
The Southlander finally got his break with a start in the match against the Blues at North Harbour Stadium four weeks ago when a badly bruised calf suffered by Horrell in the home fixture against the Bulls did not settle down in time. But there have been no games since with all teams taking a three-week break during the newly instituted international window where all three Sanzar nations hosted tours from northern hemisphere teams.
Just how keen is Robinson to play his second game against his old team this week, particularly having lost to them 23-19 first up?
"Big time. I've put my hand up. I got my first chance against the Blues and then a chance to show myself in the North-South [game in Dunedin] and last Wednesday when we played in Rotorua," Robinson said.
A minor setback was a a haematoma on his shoulder, which meant he could play only a limited part in training on Monday.
"But it's come right and I should be right back into it tomorrow," he said after that Monday session.
He scored two tries for North in their 39-24 loss to South, getting his pacy running game back under way.
"It was a good chance to get 80 under my belt and see how my fitness held up and my groin held up and I came through it the next day and I was sweet."
The Chiefs team to play in Dunedin will be named this afternoon and the fitness of All Black first-five Aaron Cruden could play a major part in whether Robinson, Horrell or both play. If Cruden is ruled out with his Achilles tendon problem, then Horrell would take his place and Robinson would likely play fullback. If Cruden is fit, it is a straight choice between Horrell and Robinson for the No15 jersey.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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