Pain of a big axe drives Benn
Pain of a big axe drives BennSHARE
Wallaby stalwart Benn Robinson is a driven man, driven by the desire to be No.1 again.
Robinson admitted this week that his latest axing for the Australian Test team is a painful experience that is even more unpleasant than when he was previously omitted from a team by Ewen McKenzie – when the latter was still Waratahs coach.
The 29-year-old prop was the first high-profile casualty of McKenzie's Test coaching reign when left out of his extended Rugby Championship squad, and it was a bombshell that cut the NSW Waratahs loosehead deep.
Although Robinson has been recalled to the Wallabies bench for the last four Tests, he will not be satisfied until he is starting instead of good mate and former understudy James Slipper.
There has been plenty of support and criticism of McKenzie's controversial selection, especially with the Australian scrum struggling to adapt to the new soft-engagement laws.
But former World Cup-winning prop Richard Harry is one who believes Robinson had not done enough to cement his place as the dynamic Slipper offers more around the ground.
Test halves Will Genia and Quade Cooper are two who also felt the sting of McKenzie selection, later admitting the tough calls made them appreciate their starting spots more on return.
Robinson, though, is not sure his axing earlier this year has been a blessing in disguise.
"That's a question I could probably answer at the end of my career," he told the Australian Associated Press.
"I know Ewen dropped me for the Waratahs in 2008 and I remember those times and looking back now it was probably a good decision for me.
"To be dropped completely definitely gave me a wake-up call and a bit of a shock back then.
"But for me there's always plenty of passion and plenty of love to play for your country. I think I'll have to do a lot more thinking … before I can say it made a big difference.
"It does make you realise how short the time is you have in the jersey."
Robinson said his five-game stint in club rugby with Eastwood while out of the national squad had been important in rediscovering his love for the game.
"I was of course very emotional," he said. "It took a lot out of me.
"It really made me sit down and think about my position, my game, how I was playing and where I was emotionally and physically playing the game."
Robinson has worked on all aspects and still holds hope he may be restored to the starting front-row against Italy in Turin this weekend, locking horns with Italian front row great Martin Castrogiovanni.
But he admits he is found it hard to make an impact off the bench.
"To be honest I've found it really challenging," the 63-Test veteran said.
"I love starting every single game. I think I've played 99 per cent of my games in the number one jersey so it makes you realise how much you want to be starting and playing in those pressure moments."
McKenzie is set to make at least two changes to his forward pack to play the Azzurri when he announces it on Thursday.
Lock Rob Simmons (knee) is likely to return, possibly at the expense of James Horwill, and Ben McCalman is set replace rested flanker Scott Fardy (concussion).