Veteran Wallabies prop Benn Robinson has choked back tears while announcing his premature retirement due to a serious eye injury.
A raft of Robinson’s NSW teammates, plus his mother and several friends, were on hand at Waratahs headquarters in Sydney on Tuesday when the 31-year-old stalwart declared his 72-Test career over.
Robinson copped an accidental poke in the eye from Brumbies lock Rory Arnold in a lineout at Allianz Stadium seven weeks ago.
With 155 games for NSW to his credit, including 144 in Super Rugby since making his debut in 2006, Robinson hangs up his boots as the most-capped player in Waratahs history.
He said it was devastating to walk away from the game he’s played since age eight.
“To hear from a doctor that I can’t do that any more is a tough pill to swallow,” Robinson said.
“Rugby has been part of my life for so many years that for it to end like this is just so disappointing.”
Robinson fears he might suffer from blurred vision for the rest of his life.
“The doctors went in after surgery and found a few more issues than they initially thought,” he said.
“There could be more surgeries in the future but my vision’s still blurry in my right eye so that’s probably potentially going to stay like that.”
The popular player said it had been a rough time since he suffered the injury.
“For the first three or weeks I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t drive and train,” he said.
“But I was sitting in the office two weeks ago and I heard about a guy with a brain tumour and I’ve got a poke in the eye. There’s worse things in life than a poke in the eye.
“I’m very fortunate, very lucky to have had such a long career but I wasn’t expecting a poke in the eye to finish it.
“I was more concerned about my back and my knee.”
Waratahs club captain Dave Dennis hailed Robinson as the ultimate team man, while Wallabies coach Michael Cheika also paid tribute to a player he helped guide to a Super Rugby title in 2014.
“Every player who has the honour of playing for the Wallabies has a responsibility to leave their own special mark on the jersey for the next generation to shape and build on, which Benn has certainly done,” Cheika said.
“He should be incredibly proud of what he achieved in his career and excited about what lies ahead.”