Major teams: Wigan RL, Bath, Sale
Test span: 2001-07
England caps: 51 (47 starts)
Lions caps: 5 (5 starts)
Test points: 150 (30T)
Rugby’s Greatest: Jason Robinson
When Clive Woodward helped bring league star Jason Robinson to union at the turn of the century, he was signing far more than a deadly finisher with a jagged step that could fox a defender within a stride.
The 5ft 8in Yorkshireman brought incredible professionalism to an England camp not long out of the amateur era, with Jonny Wilkinson saying Robinson’s arrival forced him to reassess what he thought was possible in the game.
“His ability to beat players both ways, and make 90-degree direction changes without losing speed, obliterated what I believed were the limits for footwork and speed,” said the fly-half.
Robinson went on to master union as he had league, becoming a world champion in 2003 after scoring England’s only try of the final against the Wallabies and punching the ball in celebration high into the Sydney stands.
Two years earlier, he had made the Lions Test team in the same country having not yet started for England. After scoring five tries on his Lions debut in a provincial fixture, Robinson bamboozled Chris Latham in the proverbial phone box to score a wonder try and set the tourists on their way to victory in Brisbane.
Coach Graham Henry hailed Robinson – who in the third Test played his 60th match in a year – as “a Gerald Davies for the new millennium”.
Ironically, Robinson started more games at full-back (28) than wing (19) for England, and those who doubted his ability to catch the high ball were soon assuaged by his athletic prowess; he had a 3ft standing jump that enabled him to outleap far taller men.
Robinson was to captain England before he wounds things up at the RWC 2007 final, playing through the pain having aggravated a hamstring injury in the warm-up.
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Thus ended a career that included an English Premiership title with Sale Sharks, seven England and 12 GB caps in league, and 171 tries in 273 starts for Wigan. He went on to coach Sale and had a brief playing stint at Fylde before calling time for good in July 2011.
A born-again Christian who called a halt to the heavy drinking that scarred his early years as a professional sportsman, Robinson lies sixth on the all-time England try list with 28.