FOR Wallabies forward Benn Robinson the grand-slam tour represents the hurdle that could lead to him being hailed as the world’s best prop. While his teams have ridden through troughs and peaks, Robinson has been as one of the most consistent performers in Australian rugby.The loosehead specialist was a star in this year’s Super 14 for the Waratahs and for his efforts was judged a clear winner of the Herald Cup, presented to him last Thursday before the Wallabies intra-squad trial match played at St Ignatius College in Riverview.Robinson did not play in the trial due to a groin strain, but his place on the 35-man Wallabies squad for the end-of-season tour was never in question.To understand why, one need only look to his stellar season for the Wallabies, despite Australia’s last place in the Tri Nations. Robinson was a rock for both the Wallabies’ scrum and the entire side. In their stunning victory over the Springboks in Brisbane, Robinson won the man-of-the-match award. And in the last Test loss against the All Blacks in Wellington, he was voted the players’ player.Robinson is also one of the short-listed nominees for the Australian Rugby Union’s John Eales Medal, to be awarded on Thursday week.However, for Robinson the real turning point will come when he packs against the front rows of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland one year on from his first tour to Britain, where he started in three of the five Tests in a Wallabies front row that made huge improvements to their poor reputation.”We can take a lot from the way we have been scrummaging the last couple of years, especially on the tour last year,” Robinson said yesterday. ”We took big steps in the way we scrummaged over there. If we look to this tour and games ahead it will be another big test.”Robinson says what makes the challenge even harder is the strong culture of scrummaging in the northern hemisphere, as well as the unpredictability of opposing forward packs that the Wallabies don’t usually play against during the year – unless they tour Australia before the Test season starts in June.”They are so dominant and powerful as players. If you are off just a little bit they can really hurt you. That means being adaptable,” he said.”You are facing different tightheads and looseheads and they scrummage differently to the way the southern hemisphere scrums pack down. ”Robinson said attacking the opposition scrum effectively was often the key to winning the game.
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