The 36th Australian player to feature in a half century of Test matches, BENN ROBINSON last year also became just the third Australian prop to raise the milestone, following on from Al Baxter (69 Tests) and Ewen McKenzie (51).
The popular 28-year-old started in all but one of his 14 Test appearances last year, a run which continued this June Test window as he started in all three of the Wallabies Tests against the British & Irish Lions.
Robinson, who has since been joined in the 50-Test club by prop partner Ben Alexander, brought up his half century against South Africa at Pretoria.
The venue was fitting as Robinson had made his Test debut up the road in Johannesburg six years earlier. The significance of the achievement is added to when it is considered that Robinson has been forced to miss both Rugby World Cup tournaments that his career has to date overlapped, one by non-selection in 2007, and the other due to injury in 2011.
A knee problem, which struck Robinson down at Qantas Wallabies training, saw him miss all of that year’s Test schedule, although he made a successful playing return in Super Rugby last term where he captained the NSW Waratahs for the first time.
The 2012 season also saw him raise a century of state appearances for the Waratahs in the season’s penultimate game against the Brumbies.
As he has in the past, Robinson provided stability for the Australian scrum, which performed well as a unit in the Tests played throughout 2012, most notably at Twickenham when gaining a clear edge over the much vaunted England eight.
Prior to the knee injury, Robinson had appeared in 36 out of the 43 Tests during the first three years of Robbie Deans’s charge as Qantas Wallabies coach, which highlighted his importance to the team.
He first appeared at Super Rugby level for the NSW Waratahs in 2006 and made such a positive impression that he was coming off the bench in a Test for Australia against South Africa in that year’s Tri Nations. South Africa also provided the first of Robinson’s two Test tries, scored during the 27-15 success at Durban in 2008 which represented just the second Australian win on South African soil to that point of the professional era.
FAST FACT: When Benn Robinson was appointed to lead the NSW Waratahs during their 34-30 win over the Sharks of South Africa during last year’s Super Rugby competition, it was the first time that the Eastwood club prop had captained a side at any level of the game.