Robinson tour back on after lace mishap

Australia prop strains his groin tying shoes but likely to be fit for upcoming Tests
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The Independent Online

In-form Australia prop Benn Robinson is on target to line up against New Zealand in Tokyo at the end of the month, despite straining his groin tying his shoe laces. Robinson was an indestructible force for the Wallabies this winter as one of only a few players to hold their own throughout a miserable Tri-Nations campaign.

But after standing up to the two most feared forward packs in world rugby, the simplest of tasks momentarily threw his tour plans into disarray. "I was literally tying my shoe laces [last Monday]," said a sheepish Robinson. "We did a heavy weights session on the Friday before and did a big heavy running session and I pulled up a bit stiff on the weekend and stretched it out, but then I must have lunged a bit too hard doing my shoe up on the Monday morning so that's how I did it. If I had a great story about me striding out over 100 metres I would have told you but that's not how it was."

Robinson, one of several players who trained away from the main group this morning, ran strongly and expects to resume full training early next week.

Stirling Mortlock, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tatafu Polota-Nau, James Horwill, Pek Cowan and Sekope Kepu were also on light duties but are all expected to be available for selection for the tour opener. The Wallabies will go on to play England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales after the Tokyo Test.

Robinson has emerged as a key figure for Australia following his controversial omission from the 2007 World Cup squad. And the mild-mannered front-rower, who admits the pain of his non-selection remains a constant source of motivation, knows he has a major role to play on the upcoming tour where the scrum will be crucial.

"There's going to be plenty more scrums than you see down in the southern hemisphere so it's going to be a really key part of the game," he said of the European leg of the tour.

"The Kiwis are the best scrummaging pack in the world at the moment and they're very efficient at what they do, but the northern hemisphere sides, they've been bashing [opponents] for years and years and whatever happens to them they always adapt and always come back a lot harder. The English, look at their performances the last four years, they've been very powerful and very, very strong so we know early up they are going to be a big challenge for us."

Meanwhile, Robinson says the captaincy transition from Mortlock to new man Rocky Elsom has been relatively seamless. "Rocky's always been his own man and he's very passionate about what he does and [new vice-captain] Berrick [Barnes] has always been a leader in the team, he's always controlled, especially the on-field stuff really, really well so not much has changed," he said.

"This week he [Elsom] has got stuck in and made his point known and really worked with the leadership players around him to get his point across."

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