Rugby: Hooker back under wing of early mentor

Ged Robinson going through his paces at Highlanders training at Logan Park yesterday. Photo by...
Ged Robinson going through his paces at Highlanders training at Logan Park yesterday. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Life has come full circle for Ged Robinson.

Robinson (30) may be playing in a different jersey but he is under the same coach as when he first started playing representative rugby.

Jamie Joseph coached the hooker when he was first selected for the Wellington development team back in 2006.

From there, coach and player took different paths.

Joseph went up the ranks and then headed to Dunedin to take charge of the Highlanders.

Robinson battled away in and around Wellington and eventually made the Hurricanes for two seasons.

But with his path blocked by Andrew Hore and Dane Coles, the nuggety hooker headed across the ditch, joining the expansion Melbourne Rebels side in its debut year in 2011.

After three seasons there, Robinson decided to head back to New Zealand and try to achieve his lifelong desire of becoming an All Black.

He joined Hawkes Bay, and although he enjoyed only limited game time in the ITM Cup last season, his old coach came calling and he has joined the Highlanders on a one-year deal.

Has coach Joseph changed since 2006?

''I think everyone changes when they get exposed to different things over the years and get a bit older. There are probably things now he does not get too upset about. He is a bit more relaxed,'' Robinson said.

Robinson had his first start last week against the Blues but he is not talking up his play too much.

''I think I've been going solid. You see what you get with me. I think as long as I can keep Colty [hooker Liam Coltman] honest and continue to try and push him, then I'm doing a good job,'' Robinson said.

He was enjoying being in the South, with wife Shaanti and baby boy Mackenzie (6 months), though his Aussie experience was one he really enjoyed.

''It was fun being part of a new team. We had something like 12 foreigners in the team. Guys like Gareth Delve, Michael Lipman, [Danny] Cipriani. Guys who had a lot of experience.

''Plus you had the experience of living in Melbourne - going to the Ashes, seeing the Australian Open, Formula One. It is a great city to live in.

''Australian rugby is different from playing in New Zealand. It is a bit more ruck and run. Well, it was at the Rebels, anyway. More emphasis on speed and skill. That happens in New Zealand too, but there is probably more physicality here and not as much speed. Over there it was more play what was in front of you.''

With another baby on the way and the dream of becoming an All Black still burning within Robinson, the couple left Melbourne last year.

Robinson admits his All Black dream may not happen, but it was something he would not relinquish.

''I'm probably not playing enough. But as long as I can play then I will keep giving it a crack. To me, if you are playing Super Rugby in New Zealand then you should be wanting to play for the All Blacks. I will keep going at that goal until I retire.''

Robinson, who will start off the bench tomorrow night, admits it will be a tad strange to go out and take on the Rebels.

''It will be funny. But I remember it was funny the first time I played against the Hurricanes for the Rebels. There were a lot of friends in the Hurricanes I'd grown up with. It will be the same with the Rebels.

''But that is life. People move on and changes are made.''

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