Rugby League: Robinson's roving assignment

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The Independent Online
THE Great Britain coach, Malcolm Reilly, has joined the chorus of 'here's to you, Jason Robinson' by earmarking the Wigan wing for a much more central role in the under-21 international against France next week, writes Dave Hadfield.

Robinson, only 18, has done outstandingly well at Wigan to hold down a place ahead of far more experienced players. But Reilly, naming his squad for the match at Rochdale next Wednesday, indicated yesterday he has something quite different in mind for him.

'He's a superb little player and you want to have someone as dynamic as him as closely involved with the action as possible,' he said. 'I certainly won't be playing him on the wing.'

Reilly believes Robinson's best position could turn out to be stand- off. This under-21 squad is unusual, however, because it includes a positive wealth of stand-off options, with Nigel Wright and Martin Pearson specialists in the role.

Reilly will play Wakefield's Wright, of whom he has a high opinion, at stand-off against the French, with Pearson in the centre. So it seems likely, in the absence of the experienced but still-qualified Bobby Goulding from the squad, that Robinson will figure at scrum- half, his position in schools rugby.

It is a mark of how difficult it is to typecast a player who destroyed Bradford from the right wing on Sunday that many at Wigan think he will finish up in the pack. The pack at Rochdale will have a solid core of players already capped at this level, including the new captain, Steve McNamara, of Hull, Steve McCurrie, of Widnes, and Chris Joynt, who has been admirable at loose forward for St Helens.

Squad, Sport in Short, page 29