Robinson reaps riches

Dave Hadfield follows the differing fortunes of two key figures at Wembley
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The Independent Online
IT HAS not been a bad week in the life of Jason Robinson. Whichever way you look at it, his fortunes have improved markedly since last weekend, when he looked highly unlikely to complete his recovery from a broken bone in his foot in time to take his place in Wigan's Wembley side.

While that issue was still unresolved, Robinson became the best paid young man in the game when the Australian Rugby League agreed to pay him £1.25m for a four-year contract when his current one with Wigan expires in two years.

That is the sort of figure which does your general sense of well-being no harm at all. Spurred on by the prospect of facing his home town club after being left out last year, Robinson started training tentatively on Tuesday.

"It is always a bit of a risk, but the doctor gave me a needle and I came through it all right," he said. That is something of an understatement. Robinson's two tries were the factors that put Wigan on their way to their eighth consecutive Wembley victory and the Lance Todd Trophy provided a measure of compensation for his failure to become the first scorer of a hat-trick in a final at the stadium, which he seemed likely to become when he went half the length of the field for his second early in the second half.

Opinions on Robinson's merits as a winger vary widely, with some purists believing that he plays the human battering ram role too often and takes on his man on the outside too rarely to be regarded as one of the greats in the position.

The Australians, as their big bag of dollars has just demonstrated, are unreservedly enthusiastic about his style of play. The important thing yesterday was that Robinson allowed neither wealthy admirers nor critics to affect him. "I didn't feel I had anything to prove. I just went out there to have a good game," he said.

If Robinson was the week's big winner, the heaviest loser must be Garry Schofield. One of Britain's most distinguished players for a decade and more, he has been shocked and disappointed to find that he is not on the list of lucky winners in the rugby league's national lottery.

Worse than that, he was the central figure in the incident which may have done more than any other to seal the outcome of the match. Just as he did in the second Test against Australia at Old Trafford in the autumn, Schofield swooped to grab an interception from the acting halfback, Frano Botica in this case. Just as on that occasion, a likely try was thwarted by an offside decision.

"I have always been under the impression that when the ball is on the floor and clears the ruck you can play on," he said. "I don't think I was offside and I thought it was a bad call by the referee. I don't know whether it made the difference to the result, but it was a crucial time in the match and you never know."

What Schofield does know is that when your luck is out, you don't win the lottery.