If there was one positive to the injury crisis that plagued Cardiff Blues throughout December and January of last season, it was the re-signing of Nicky Robinson as cover. The great homecoming, you could say.
Brought in with Gareth Anscombe and Jarrod Evans both in the treatment room, the fly-half made his second Cardiff debut at home to Ulster, coming off the bench to beautifully set up one try, before getting charged down to concede another. We’ll gloss over the latter part of that though.
King Nicky went on to feature in six more games in that middle part of the season, before seeing his playing time slowly lessen as Anscombe returned to fitness for the last few months.
The 13-time capped Wales international did continue to play an active part in and around The Vale training complex though, taking on additional coaching responsibilities and even appearing on the touchline wired up during some of the games in the latter part of the season.
Robinson is quite possibly one of the best passers of the ball to grace the game over the last 15 years. Off both hands he can pick a player out from first receiver, as well as being a danger himself, that sort of experience can be imparted onto any player in the squad.
As well as that, with over 2000 career points there is certainly some kicking knowledge that can be passed on to the likes of Anscombe, Evans and Steve Shingler as well as academy players Ben Jones and Ben Thomas.
So what of next season? Well, the King only signed until the end of the season back in November, but he looks set to continue his reign over the Arms Park in a more official player/coach role.
The departure of Paul John has opened up a vacancy for a skills coach, and Robinson certainly hasn’t been short of them in his career. The chance for him to work with Jones, Thomas, Owen Lane, Garyn Smith, Dane Blacker, Aled Summerhill and the other young guys who are the future of Cardiff Blues will be massive for the club.
There is nothing confirmed yet, but Nicky commented a few week back that he is “helping out a bit with the coaching side…it wasn’t something I really wanted to pursue as I haven’t done a huge amount of coaching.
“This just worked nicely as a nice opportunity to gain experience and see if it was something that I wanted to pursue long-term or not.”
Crucially on top of that “if there are any injuries like there were earlier in the season. I am there and raring to go.”
With 132 appearances across seven seasons we may not have seen the last of Robinson in action on the Arms Park pitch yet, and we certainly haven’t lost the effect he can have on the jersey, through the future performances of the players he is helping to mould.
It would be a shrewd move to match developing our players from within with developing our coaches from within. Talented, experienced and knowledgeable men who can instil a culture in the players, as well as impart their wisdom.
As well as that, it keeps the romantic in me happy in the hope that Nicky Robinson will rise off the bench to kick the match winning drop goal in next season’s Pro12 final. Long live the King!!