DFP – Header Code

Lions Hero: Donal Lenihan on Jason Robinson

Lions Hero: Donal Lenihan on Jason Robinson

One guy who really impressed me in a Lions shirt was Jason Robinson. I was manager of the 2001 Lions Tour to Australia, and we selected him, even though he only had about three or four caps for England at the time, the majority being off the bench, and he had just transferred over from rugby league.

Brian O’Driscoll and Ronan O’Gara,...would sit back and observe the way he went about his business.

One guy who really impressed me in a Lions shirt was Jason Robinson. I was manager of the 2001 Lions Tour to Australia, and we selected him, even though he only had about three or four caps for England at the time, the majority being off the bench, and he had just transferred over from rugby league.

I spoke to him on the Tour, and he told me that he'd only been playing union for six months, and there were still a lot of things he didn't understand, but he said ‘just pass me the ball and I'll be fine’. That's the way he was.

The try he got for us against Australia in the opening test in Brisbane was superb – he had magical feet, everything about him was brilliant.

Visit the Lions store for all your official merchandise

He was on the back foot in terms of other players who had played rugby union all their lives, but he was one player who stood out at the time.

Obviously he went on to great things – he was a key member of the England team who won the 2003 World Cup and was still there in 2007 when they got to the final again.

It is a huge positive if you have someone in the group where people think "the more likely we can get the ball into this guy’s hands, the likelier it is we'll score a try”.

Rugby union in the professional era was still in its infancy, a lot of the players had been involved with the amateur age.

Yet Robinson came in from league, he was a professional, there were things in training, his footwork, some of the things he would do on his own, individual exercises, it impacted greatly on the squad.

I've heard Jonny Wilkinson speak about the impact seeing Robinson had on him, I know the likes of Brian O’Driscoll and Ronan O’Gara, who were two young guys at the time, would sit back and observe the way he went about his business.

""

He played one or two of the earlier games on the Tour and they saw how lethal he was, and a few people were in awe of the guy, especially some of the younger players.

He was a superstar in rugby league, and the Tour was a very difficult challenge for him.

Even by his own admission, he didn't know the English players on the Tour that well, and on top of that, you're trying to gel with guys from Ireland, Scotland and Wales too.

It was huge challenge for him, but I really admired the way he went about his business. 

Irish lock Donal Lenihan made four appearances on the 1989 Lions Tour to Australia, six years after a sole game for the 1983 Lions in New Zealand.
He was also named manager of the 2001 Lions Tour to Australia, the first to be coached by a man from outside the British Isles in Graham Henry, and he was also a selector for the successful 1997 to South Africa.

DFP – Right Hand Side MPU

DFP – Half Page

Partners & Suppliers

    Principal Partners

    Sponsors