Jason Robinson lauds late rugby league pioneer Maurice Lindsay

·3-min read
Jason Robinson visits the club he was first talent spotted in Rugby League, The Hunslet Club, to see how National Lottery funding is helping the club thrive through the RLWC21 CreatedBy programme (Getty Images for The National Lottery)

Jason Robinson hailed Maurice Lindsay as a fantastic rugby league pioneer after the former Wigan Warriors chairman died aged 81 last week, writes Josh Graham.

Lindsay was in charge of the Warriors when a teenage Robinson arrived at the club and presided over Wigan’s eight league titles and nine Challenge Cup wins during the 1980s and 90s.

Most notably, however, Lindsay helped deliver the trailblazing move to summer rugby and proposed the creation of Super League in his role as the Rugby Football League’s chief executive.

And Robinson, 47, explained: “It’s very sad. Maurice has done so much for Wigan, I remember him being there when I was and he did a fantastic job.

“One of the mean reasons I think the Wigan team of the 80s and 90s was so successful is that Maurice was at the helm and he was directing the ship.

“It’s really sad that he’s passed away but he’s left a legacy, he’s done so much, not just for Wigan, but also for rugby league in general and he will certainly be well remembered.

“When I went to Wigan I signed as a 16-year-old but Maurice was responsible for all the big names being signed and probably a reason why a lot of those big names came to Wigan as well.

“He was so good at what he did and he helped grow the sport really well. It’s a sad week but it’s important to remember some of those good memories and great things that he did.”

Dual-code hero Robinson famously scored England’s only try in the win over Australia in the 2003 Rugby World Cup final, gaining revenge after losing to the same opponents in the final of the league equivalent in 1995.

And the former side-stepping genius, dubbed ‘Billy Whizz’ for his blistering speed, cannot wait for this year’s pandemic-delayed home Rugby League World Cup 2021 to get underway.

Robinson said: “It’s going to take some of the barriers away for normal people to watch world class sport.

“We are going to have some of the best players in the world, it’s great watching on TV but there’s nothing like watching a live game of sport and I really can’t wait for it.”

Leeds-born Robinson spent his entire professional career in the 13-a-side game with Wigan and wants to see the Rhinos’ new recruit Zak Hardaker - who rejoined Leeds after his release from Wigan for family reasons last month - return to his best form as the England international aims to make a late charge for Shaun Wane’s World Cup squad.

Hardaker suffered a suspected seizure while out walking shortly after making the move back to West Yorkshire but has been medically cleared to return and shone in Friday’s 24-6 win over Wakefield Trinity, winning player of the match in his first Rhinos home game in six years.

Hardaker, 30, withdrew early from England’s 2013 World Cup campaign due to personal reasons before missing out on the 2017 edition after testing positive for cocaine but the full-back/centre is hoping it will be third time lucky this year.

Robinson said: “We want to be talking about Zak Hardaker for all the right reasons - he’s a talented player. Hopefully he can get himself right mentally, get fit and get himself on the rugby field.

“Everybody always has a chance [to make the England squad] but the key thing is to make sure you are playing really well and then hopefully you’ll get the nod.

“There’s no doubting his talent but we will see nearer the time whether he can squeeze into that squad.”

The National Lottery is an official partner of this year’s Rugby League World Cup. The partnership includes National Lottery players providing £750,000 of vital financial support to some of the hardest hit and most disadvantaged communities across England through the RLWC21 CreatedBy Grants Programme. Funding has also helped save the Women’s & Girls’ game during the pandemic.

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