- Robinson scored 28 tries in 51 games for England
- Played in two Rugby World Cup finals
‘Is this the next Jason Robinson?’
Whenever anyone makes a cross-code switch to rugby union this is a question which is often raised, such was his impact on the game.
It was on this day 17 years ago, on 17 October 2000 that Robinson, at the age of 26, moved from rugby league side Wigan Warriors to join Sale Sharks on a five-year deal. His impact on the 15-man code would be phenomenal.
The accolades are numerous - a Rugby World Cup winner and try scorer in the 2003 final, a Rugby World Cup finalist in 2007, two spells as England captain, twice a tourist with the British & Irish Lions, a Premiership title and two European Challenge Cups.
But ‘Billy Whizz’, as he was nicknamed after the Beano character, cannot just be summed up by a list of awards, his mesmerising dancing feet, incredible pace and ability to do the unknown puts him on a list of some of England’s greatest ever players.
Leeds-born Robinson began his career at local rugby league side Hunslet Hawks but was picked up by Wigan in 1992 at a time when they dominated the sport winning numerous titles and Challenge Cups.
Such was his talent he broke into the Wigan first team as a teenager and was picked for Great Britain for a Test debut at the age of 19.
At club level, Robinson won everything possible with the Warriors including a memorable Club World Championship in 1994 over Brisbane in Australia and scored the winning try in the first ever Super League Grand Final over Leeds in 1998.
A few days after the loss to St Helens in the Grand Final of 2000 he would leave the 13-man code having won 19 caps at international level and scored 184 tries in 302 outings for Wigan.
Robinson made a try-scoring debut for Sale a month after his arrival, but it was not a completely new experience for him.
After rugby union turned professional in 1995, a number of rugby league players, who had seen their sport switch from a winter to a summer one, took up short-term contracts with union clubs.
Robinson did just that in 1996 with a four-month stint at Bath where he ended with a try in every other game record, with seven in 14 before his return to the Warriors.
Try-scoring debuts became a theme as he scored on his first Sale outing in a cup game against Coventry and then on his first Test for the British & Irish Lions on the 2001 tour of Australia, just seven months after his permanent switch to the Sharks.
Although he did not manage to cross on his first outing for England, he is fifth on the all-time try scorers list with 28 in 51 caps and remains the only English men’s player to score a try in a Rugby World Cup final.
Arguably his most memorable score in England’s 2003 triumph while at club level his performances helped Sale win the European Challenge Cup in 2002 and 2005 as well as their maiden Premiership title in 2006.
As much as Robinson’s career was known for some magical moments, it also became known for comebacks.
He initially announced his international retirement before the autumn internationals in 2005 following his second Lions tour when he went to New Zealand.
However, England head coach Brian Ashton persuaded Robinson to play for his country again before the 2007 Six Nations and on into the World Cup that year when England would again reach the final, but just lose out to South Africa.
The 2006/07 season saw him announce his retirement from club rugby at Sale where he signed off in style with a last minute winning try in his final outing for the Manchester outfit at Edgeley Park.
After spending a season as head coach of the Sharks in 2009/10, again Robinson reversed his retirement from playing when in 2010 at the age of 35 he was reunited with Brian Ashton at National League Two side Fylde for one season.