Where are they now: Peter Robinson
Good guys have a heart of gold, Peter Robinson is living proof of that.
Known affectionately as ‘Robbo’, the former prop played 75 games for Melbourne between 2000-2005.
His importance to this Club is not measured in games played though, in fact what he has brought to the purple jersey stretches far beyond what he did on the field.
Robinson is still apart of Storm, in the role of Player Welfare and Education manager, working closely with the playing group to set them up for life after football.
It is a field he is incredibly passionate about, using his own life experience to educate young players who may enter the NRL system with nothing but football on their mind.
Robinson hails from Cobar, a town in central western New South Wales that is home to fewer than 4,000 people.
It was there he learned the fundamentals of hard work, becoming an apprentice boilermaker at the age of 19 until the NRL final came calling several years later.
“I had six years of working life under my belt before I became a professional footballer,” Robinson said.
“Those skills don’t leave you. Those bumps and bruises you get along the way, they hold you in good stead and let you know how resilient you need to be.
“I was always a hard worker because of those lessons I learned from being an apprentice. Working in the mines for 12 hours, sometimes 16 hours a day.
“They are the things that help you learn a lot about yourself.”
By today’s standards, Robinson was a late bloomer in his football career.
He still he remembers when he made the move south as a 22-year-old, the day after the 1998 Melbourne Cup.
A three-month trial was his initial offer. He made it through that but it was not for another two years that he was able to pull on that purple jersey for the first time.
In his second NRL game in 2000 he scored the match-winning try against Broncos, signed a two-year deal and the rest as they say is history.
Melbourne has now been his home for the last 19 years. He happily lives in Reservoir with his wife and their three children.
These days not many players take the long road into the NRL system like Robinson did.
Most come straight out of school, into football, without any realisation of what a working day really means.
That is where the Melbourne Storm work program – a concept implemented by Craig Bellamy the moment he walked into the Club back in 2003.
Whether you are a rookie or a 100-game veteran, every new recruit must complete the program, regardless of the size of your contract.
Robinson has been involved with it since entering the Storm welfare department after his retirement in 2005.
“There are guys coming straight out of school, they’ve never done a day’s work so when they come to us and they are doing two weeks of labour intensive work, the hardest work we can find them,” Robinson said.
“It is for them to have a real-life experience of what the working life is.
“That helps our discussion during the year when we talk to the players about how football can be over before you know it.
“When that time comes and you don’t do anything, you don’t plan for life during your playing days, well that crowbar you were swinging at the start of pre-season, that might be your only option.”
What those players experience during those two weeks is a parallel to what Robinson went through during his early days.
“I knew what I was going to have to go back to so I knew that if I wanted a different option after football I needed to do courses and add to my resume for that to happen,” Robinson said.
“That is why I say to the players, you have to find out what you are passionate about.
“You might not find that in your first, second or third go but by just doing something you might find what you are interested in.”
Another passion which Robinson is heavily involved in is the annual Old Boys Weekend – a time once a year where past players of the Club come back to Melbourne to reminisce about the good old days.
The most recent installment was held last week to coincide with the 2007 Grand Final reunion.
Both he and former teammate Robbie Kearns organise the weekend each year. It is something they both hold very dear to them.
“It means bringing the past and the present together,” Robinson said.
“I like the current players to see how highly regarded the past players are and how highly regarded we still hold them as a footy Club.
“We like them to see that no matter what happens in their lives, they are always going to have a connection here.
“That is what it means to me. The Old Boys cohort is becoming more important… we might be having a laugh but there is some serious conversations happening. Some might be doing it tough in their lives and that is a healthy thing to come together with some familiar faces to talk about it.
“There are fellas there that never played with each other but they wore the jumper and they have that common connection.
“You can’t beat genuine care and interest and the people of this organisation have that.”
Robinson is clearly one person who opitimises that as much as any other and the Melbourne Storm will forever benefit by having people like him being a part of it.