Robinson looking to cement his place
PA Sport
February 8, 2007

Wales centre Jamie Robinson impressed coach Gareth Jenkins with his ability to stay afloat after being thrown into the deep end against Ireland with barely any warning.

Robinson, 26, started against the revered Irish midfield duo Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy having completed just one training run with the rest of the Wales team.

Jenkins had been forced to change his plans and promote Robinson into the team late on Thursday after Gareth Thomas was handed a month-long suspension.

It was Robinson's 17th Wales cap but his first at home for four years and he was ``rewarded'' by Jenkins with keeping 13 jersey for Saturday's clash with Scotland at Murrayfield.

Now, with a full week's preparation under his belt, Robinson is determined to finally make a lasting impression on the Wales team - especially with outside centre rival Tom Shanklin returning to full fitness.

Robinson said: ``Last week was difficult. Gareth Jenkins picked the side as if Gareth Thomas was playing so I didn't actually run with the team until the Saturday morning.

``I had a phone call that I was in the team about 5pm on Thursday - but Friday is our day off so I only had one day to practise.

``I was content and happy with my performance against Ireland. I would have liked to do a few more things with the ball in hand but defensively I was pretty happy with things.

``I felt I gave a good account of myself without setting the world on fire. I was hoping I'd still be involved and it is very exciting now to be preparing for Murrayfield.''

It is surprising Wales did not plan better for Thomas' suspension given the team management had known all week he faced a potential ban for aggressive behaviour towards supporters.

But it also goes a long way to explaining why the Wales camp were so angry at the severity of the ERC's punishment, which was effectively three Test matches plus a PS5,000 fine.

Members of the union had been given an indication that a fine may have been the extent of the sanction.

Even with Robinson thrust into the side late on, Wales forced Ireland into some tough defending but they lacked sharpness in their finishing and slipped to a tryless 19-9 defeat.

But Robinson believes Wales will have learned from that and he hopes a week without major disruption will help Wales get their Six Nations campaign properly under way.

Robinson said: ``I had a bit of a chance (to strike up a relationship with centre partner James Hook) on the tour to Argentina but it is about getting the practice in and being able to really gel a bit better.

``I'd like to think we'll have more chances with the ball in hand against Scotland. We had chances on Sunday that didn't quite pan out as we had planned.

``Hopefully on Saturday our game-plan will be more set and a week on, we know where we need to improve, the guys know where they need to be going and hopefully we can get a result.''

While Robinson retained his place in the team, Shanklin was included on the bench after recovering from injury.

Shanklin is short of match fitness after six weeks out but Jenkins expects him to be introduced at some point.

Robinson will come up against a new-look Scotland midfield with Phil Godman
brought in at fly-half and Rob Dewey starting at inside centre.

``That is not wholly surprising, I don't think,'' said Robinson, referring to Scotland's 42-20 defeat to England last weekend.

``They are a more attacking back line now. That is something we will have to look at and work on in the next couple of days.

``We have played them in the Magners League before so we know what they are about.''

Even so, Robinson conceded the step up from league rugby to the Six Nations level had caught him a little by surprise.

``The general intensity was a big step up, even from European games,'' he said.

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