There is every chance Sharks Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership (HNWP) team member Andie Robinson will be creating headlines in the not-too-distant future, one way or the other.
The local product who attended St Patrick's College in Sutherland and is the daughter of former Balmain Tigers first grade player Clint, Robinson was a part of the victorious NSW Women’s under-19’s Origin team in 2021, following on from a strong season representing the HNWP Sharks.
A talented outside back, Robinson is set to be a crucial member of coach Tony Herman’s Sharks women’s squad again next year and has been earmarked as a player to watch in the years to come.
However, while there is every chance her exploits on the field will attract plenty of attention, the Bachelor of Journalism student, with the 19-year-old Robinson about to enter the second year of her degree at Wollongong University, having ambitions to not only be making news but to also one day be reporting it.
Robinson’s first foray into the world of sports media will be on the pages of this very website, gaining valuable insights and experience, while at the same time keeping members and fans up to date with the latest Sharks news.
But if you listen to Glenn Brailey, Sharks Development and Pathways Manager, Robinson’s coach when she graduated from Tarsha Gale to the Women’s Premiership team in 2020, and he has no doubt she has a playing career to think about first, before concentrating all her energies on becoming a sports reporter.
“Andie playing NSW 19’s Origin in just her second year of rugby league is a pretty good indication of the ability she has,” Brailey said. “She is a quality player, someone who I believe will certainly play NRLW in the years to come and she has a bright future in the game.”
For Andie, despite her family ties, rugby league was something of an afterthought, coming after playing the non-contact forms of the game and following a stint in rugby sevens.
“I played Oztag and touch growing up, then got into the rugby sevens because a few of the girls I played with were playing,” Robinson said. “I only started playing League last year. Kate Mullaly (NRL Development officer and former Sharks Tarsha Gale assistant coach) got me across and a trial for Tarsha Gale was my first game,”
And from there it has been an upwards spiral, with Robinson doing her bit in the 16-12 NSW victory in the under-19’s Origin match last year, playing alongside Sharks teammates Rueben Cherrington and Tegan Dymock.
The complications of Covid meant while mum Mary-Anne managed to fly to Queensland to be sideline for the match, dad was unfortunately stranded at home.
“My mum got on the flight, but dad missed out. The borders closed just a few hours before he was supposed to leave,” Andie said.
“There was a bit of talk in the media, and I said to my wife you’d better jump on a plane today, just to be sure one of us are up there,” Clint Robinson took up the story. “In an hour we had her booked on a flight and out to the airport. I was supposed to go the next day and that’s when it all closed. I had to sit and watch on live stream with the rest of the family on a laptop.”
Dad Clint, a Tiger through a golden era for the club during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, sharing the field with Balmain greats such as Steve Roach, Gary Jack, Wayne Pearce and Benny Elias, was apprehensive at first about Andie playing rugby league, admitting he wasn’t sure if the sport he excelled at was the one he had envisaged his daughter would play.
“It certainly wasn’t the sport I would have chosen for any of my daughters,” Clint began. “I had to retire pretty young through injury, so I went through my experiences with her, through the potential consequences and risks of playing.
“I went through all of that, but she was still really keen to play. She was determined to play. That’s what she wants to do, and I’ll support her 100 per cent.”
Despite his initial reluctance, Clint passed on some of what he had learned along the way, although as he explained, motivation is something Andie has never lacked.
“Even if I had wanted to, I’ve never had to push her, she’ll get up at the crack of dawn to go training by herself. If I can offer some advice, I will, but I don’t push any of my kids to do anything. She’s very self-motivated,” he said.
“She’s done well and she’s still got a lot to learn obviously, but she puts herself in a position by doing the extra work and hopefully she can capitalise on the opportunities as they come up.
“She’s just enjoying the experience at the moment, especially playing with the older girls.”
However, despite his initial concerns, dad is now unashamedly one of Andie’s biggest supporters.
“He comes to every game,” Andie said. “While he wasn’t keen on me playing rugby league at first, he has always helped me. As soon as I told him I wanted to play, he took me up the park and taught me how to tackle.”
As for putting a rating on dad, born after Clint’s career had been cut short ,Andie has relied on old footage to get a gauge on what sort of player her father might have been.
“He was very fast and he was all over the field. He played wing but grew up playing in the halves,” “But he doesn’t like to talk about it too much,” Andie added.
And dad on a possible media career for his daughter? Burned once during his playing days, he might relay one particular story to keep Andie on the right course.
“I’d only played two first grade games and I think it was the Daily Telegraph did a story. I was on the back page, or on a prominent page in the sport section, and the headline was, ‘Robinson tells the Tigers to wake up’,” he began.
“It was a quote from Warren Ryan (Tigers coach). It wasn’t something I’d said but something Warren had said to us. I had to rock up at training, I’d played two games, we had a team full of Australian representatives and an 18-year-old kid was telling them what to do.”
So his only advice.
“Her mum and I keep emphasising, she’s got to be an honest journalist with integrity. It’s good timing for her, both with her rugby league and her career choice. I think women’s sport in general, you couldn’t have picked a better time to be coming through.”