QUEANBEYAN Kangaroos coach Aaron Gorrell has lauded former teammate and recent Penrith Panthers debutant Travis Robinson as one of the most naturally gifted players he has seen in country footy.
And the former Brisbane Broncos and St George Illawarra representative says Robinson has the potential to turn his midseason cameo with Penrith into a permanent NRL gig.
Robinson spent two seasons playing alongside Gorrell at the Kangaroos before heading to Sydney this year in an attempt to secure a professional contract.
Those efforts have paid off in spades after Robinson was picked up by Penrith before making his NRL debut a fortnight ago in the side’s 46-6 loss to the Melbourne Storm.
Despite being provided little opportunity to shine against the Storm, Robinson clearly did enough to impress Panthers coach Ivan Cleary. The 25-year-old was named to replace the suspended Michael Jennings in the centres for Penrith this weekend against the New Zealand Warriors.
Gorrell, who himself played 83 games in the top flight from 2002-2009, said there was never any doubt the barnstorming centre/winger had the ability to make a name for himself on the national stage.
“Considering Travis wasn’t able to train full time [while at Queanbeyan] he’s one of the most naturally gifted players I’ve seen,” Gorrell said.
“He’s always had the ability [to play at the highest level], it was just going to come down to whether he was given the opportunity.
“With a good offseason at the end of the year, hopefully he can get a bit stronger, hone up on his skills with the right coaching staff and he’ll get a real sniff.”
Robinson joined the Kangaroos in 2010 having previously played Premier League (second grade) at the Cronulla Sharks before a serious ankle injury brought a premature end to his tenure in the Shire.
After a prolonged rehabilitation process, Robinson spent time plying his trade in the Northern Territory before coming to the attention of the Kangaroos.
“I’d spoken to a few people [before signing him] and they all said the same thing. They all said he’s got the talent, it’s just about giving him an opportunity and whether he can stay injury free,” Gorrell said.
“The two years I had him here he was a pleasure to coach. He never missed a training session so I’m just happy to see him go on to better things.”
Robinson’s career path has been remarkably similar to that of twin brother Reece who also spent several years in the relative obscurity of park football before getting a chance with the Canberra Raiders.