New Wallabies deal for Robinson
The Wallabies have received a boost on the eve of the second Test against the British & Irish Lions with confirmation that Australia's second most capped front-rower, Benn Robinson, has re-signed with Australian Rugby for a further three years.
The 28-year-old, who will on Saturday night appear in his 58th Test as the Australia 2013 Lions Tour moves to Melbourne, has recommitted to both Australian Rugby and the Waratahs through until the end of 2016.
This places him in position to hunt down his former Waratahs and Wallabies team-mate Al Baxter, who is currently Australia's most capped prop after representing the country on 69 occasions.
Robinson, who will be joined in the '50 club' by his front-row partner Ben Alexander on Saturday night, made his Test debut against South Africa at Johannesburg in 2006.
Although he is now into his seventh season as a Test player, Robinson has had the misfortune to miss two Rugby World Cups, failing to gain selection in 2007, before a knee injury at training saw him ruled out of the entire 2011 Test programme.
He admits that gap in the career CV did offer an incentive to stay in Australia, as has the promise shown this season by the Waratahs in Super Rugby, with Robinson never having won that competition, coming closest in 2008 when the Waratahs were downed by the Crusaders in the final in Christchurch.
"There's still a lot more I'd like to achieve in Australia," Robinson said.
"The options were there to look at going overseas but I love living in Sydney, and enjoy what I am doing at the moment. I'm just not ready to leave."
Robinson captained the Waratahs last year, leading the team to a win over the Sharks, and has been with the Sydney-based franchise since making his debut in 2004.
His maiden Super Rugby appearance came two years later, in the same season as his Test debut in South Africa.
"I remain as proud now to wear the sky blue, and the gold, as I was the first time I put both jerseys on," Robinson added.
"I'm not big on either titles or statistics, but captaining my state, and then playing my 50th Test - both of which happened last year - are experiences that I will never forget."
Given that the next Rugby World Cup is two years away, Robinson says his focus, even while finalising the new deal, never moved from what was immediately in front of him: the once in a lifetime opportunity to play against the British & Irish Lions.
And while Australia narrowly lost the first Test, 21-23, last Saturday night in Brisbane; Robinson says the side is undeterred, and is determined to square the Tom Richards Cup series, when the second Test takes place before a sold out crowd in Melbourne on Saturday night.
"The preparations have gone pretty well this week, we are all looking forward to the game," he revealed.
"Last weekend was an amazing atmosphere, the colour and the noise in the stadium was everything we expected it would be. I'm sure game two in Melbourne on Saturday night will be the same."