Jon Tuxworth August 12, 2012
Raiders player Reece Robinson was due to take on twin brother Travis today, but Travis was not picked in the match day squad by the Panthers. Photo: Jay Cronan
Reece and Travis won't square off today, but it was a struggle for both to be in the NRL at all, writes JON TUXWORTH
WHEN Penrith rookie Travis Robinson was overlooked for today's game against Canberra, his mother Christine's reaction was a mixture of disappointment and relief.
Sure, she wants her son to make the most of his belated crack at the NRL after making his debut against Melbourne last week.
But given he would have clashed with twin brother Reece on the same wing, Christine rates avoiding the most nervous 80 minutes of her life fair consolation.
''No I wasn't [disappointed] actually because Travis was threatening all week to smash him, and I said no one's smashing anyone,'' Christine laughed.
''They've never played against each other the boys, they've always been in the same team and never had to compete against each other.''
Reece and Travis are so alike, Christine was forced to shave the initials R and T into their hair as kids so their junior club, South Sydney-based Alexandria Rovers, could tell them apart.
Their long term junior coach Matt Lawrence reckons the determination they share is just as identical as their looks.
Reece battled for years in park football before cementing himself as an NRL star with the Raiders this season.
Travis has also been forced to draw on plenty of self belief after suffering a horrific ankle injury playing Premier League for Cronulla three years ago.
The compound fracture he suffered at Shark Park was so gruesome, Lawrence initially thought a promising career had come to a premature end.
Travis, who starred for the Queanbeyan Kangaroos in their premiership last year, endured 18 months of torturous rehabilitation just to get back on the field.
The Panthers may have been thrashed 46-6 by the Storm last week, but for Travis simply running onto AAMI Park was a victory.
''I'm surprised he came back, it was a massive shock to me to see him playing for Penrith last week, and I'm very proud of him,'' Lawrence said.
''That was a real bad injury, they stopped the game and bone was sticking out of his foot.
''He was playing in the centres with [current Dragons star] Beau Scott, one of Cronulla's NRL guys got injured and Scott got called up the next week.
''There was big raps on Travis at the time and that quite easily could have been [it].''
Christine confirmed there were genuine fears at the time for Travis' football future.
''His whole ankle got dislocated from his leg, I think it was hanging by a couple of ligaments,'' Christine said.
''They were looking at renegotiating his contract and they were going to do it in May, and he got injured in late April.
''He couldn't even walk or run on his leg for about 18 months, it took ages to recover.
''It was just bad luck he wasn't able to get that opportunity [earlier], and I'm just glad someone has given it to him now.''
Christine's father Eric is a Rabbitohs legend, and current Souths flyer Nathan Merritt is their first cousin. So it is no surprise the Robinson boys dreamed of one day pulling on the cardinal and myrtle jersey.
Their winters were dominated by league and union, while athletics took over in summer.
Christine was just happy they had an avenue to expend their energy, and keep out of trouble.
''[Former Panthers player] Yilleen Gordon is one of their best friends, and when it was wet and raining it was the worst time to get them,'' Christine said.
''Nathan and my boys would go down to the park and play a full on game with about 50 other kids.''
Both Robinsons remain shy and quietly spoken, but Lawrence declared that shouldn't be confused for disinterest.
''They were always going to make something of themselves, they trained well and growing up in our area they always knew right from wrong,'' Lawrence said. ''I don't remember hearing them being in trouble at all, they were very quiet boys and good kids.
''They're just gifted athletes. They could get lazy and I'd have to put a rocket up their arse, then they'd come out and score three or four tries no problem.
''That was my biggest thing keeping them out of trouble, and I thought football was an avenue for that.''
After years of being compared to each other for obvious reasons, the Robinsons are hell-bent on forging their own separate reputations.
''I used to dress them in the same clothes all the time, but when they got to a certain age they said they wanted to be individuals,'' Christine said.
''At one point they said they're going to get dressed separately, and they came down in exactly the same outfit.
''They're different in some ways too, Travis is probably a bit more talkative than Reece, and they complement each other well.''