On a fine Melbourne night in June 2013, Marist St Pats centurion Ged Robinson took the field for the Melbourne Rebels to face the worlds most famous touring side, the British and Irish Lions. Even having played in a Ranfurly Shield winning team and for the Junior All Blacks, he rates this as the biggest game he's played in a professional career that spanned over ten years.
'My main memories are of having a packed out crowd and a great sense of what playing the Lions meant. Even though it was a one-off game, it had more the intensity and feeling than any other game I have ever played in. It was a privilege to be part of it.'
The Lions won seven of nine games on the 2013 Australian tour and despite the daunting task at hand, the Melbourne side felt privileged to take on the famous side. As Ged says 'it's what you train and work your butt off for - to have a chance to play the best and see what you are made of.' The Rebels fell short that night, but Ged was notable in a gutsy first half performance which saw the home side trail by only 14 points at the break, before ultimately losing 0-35.
With the best of four nations in the team any Lions side has plenty of star power and big personalities, but after the game they spent a good hour in the changing rooms with the locals discussing how the tour was going and how they were enjoying Australia.
Looking forward to the current tour of New Zealand, much has been talked about the likely unavailability of first choice rake Dane Coles. Ged has had the unique experience of competing for playing time with both Coles and his understudy Codie Taylor (with Ged having played his last two Super Rugby seasons at the Crusaders).
He has reassuring words for the All Blacks faithful, 'Codie is getting better and better the more time he gets. He works really hard on his game and he has the potential to play like Colesy. Codie will be prepped and ready to go and I think with more game time people will see how good he really is.'
As for Ged himself? Now based in Christchurch he has taken the reigns as head coach of Marist Albion RFC and has his own food truck, 'Fed by Ged', serving fresh woodfire pizza.
On coaching, 'it has been really challenging in a good way. The club has had a lot of injuries which tested our depth but the team has really come together to get through it. We haven't had the results we have wanted but the boys are learning and developing, so I feel like a run of good performances is round the corner.'
As for the food truck business, 'the catering is going really well and I have booked a lot of events and parties for summer but the lunchtime can vary.' If you're ever in Christchurch get in touch with Ged, there will be a friendly face with a hot pizza ready for you to crack into!