Wallabies stalwart Benn Robinson is already exploring coaching possibilities after having his playing career cruelly cut short by a freak eye injury.
Robinson choked back tears as he announced his retirement in front of a room full of NSW and Australian teammates, his mother and other friends at Waratahs headquarters in Sydney on Tuesday.
Doctors told the 31-year-old he may live the rest of his life with blurred vision in his right eye after copping an accidental poke from Brumbies lock Rory Arnold in a lineout seven weeks ago.
But while he admits to being devastated, the 72-Test prop and the most-capped player in Waratahs history is already looking to the future – with coaching at the forefront of his mind.
“It’s someone I’ll look at,” Robinson said.
“A few people have spoken to me about that already, from a few organisations.
“Whether it’s at a junior level or more a senior level, I’ve got a wealth of knowledge up here (in my head) – it’s been rattled a few times – but it’s a wealth of knowledge that I can pass on.
“So I’ve been in touch with some good people already around that idea as well.
“For me it’s about giving back to the game. I’ve been so lucky to play for so long and learn so much on the field – off the field as well – so I’ve still got a lot to give.”
Robinson has played under five different head coaches during his 11-year, 155-game career at the Waratahs.
From his debut season in 2006 under Ewen McKenzie when he was named Australia’s Super Rugby rookie of the year to Chris Hickey, Michael Foley, Michael Cheika and current mentor Daryl Gibson, Robinson has been coached by some of the best in the business.
Waratahs club captain and career-long professional teammate Dave Dennis has no doubts the popular front-rower has all the makings of a successful mentor.
“He’s been very consistent in doing his job for this team and that’s ultimately providing a solid scrum,” Dennis said.
“A lot of younger guys have learnt from that – around his scrummaging.
“Not many players have been able to do that for so long – and (he’s) never been the biggest prop either.
“He’s given away a lot of kilos against a lot of big men, but he’s always managed to find a way.”