Written by Callum Walker
Though “Billy Whizz” – a nickname given to Jason Robinson after a character in the Beano whom is an extremely fast runner – played for Wigan a good six years before the creation of Super League in 1996, he still had four very memorable seasons with the Warriors in the summer game. In fact, Robinson – hailing from Leeds – began his career at Hunslet in 1991, playing a season and registering 27 appearances before moving to Wigan.
The electric winger debuted for the Lancashire club in 1992 aged just 17 and registered 302 appearances, accumulating 685 points over a period of nine seasons.
In the Wigan golden era of the late ’80s, early ’90s – where the club won eight Challenge Cups in a row and 12 senior titles altogether – Robinson was a part of two of the Challenge Cup-winning sides (1993 and 1995). The winger also won three Regal Trophy finals in the ‘90s, before the competition was scrapped with the advent of Super League.
With the summer game taking over, Robinson played a key role in Wigan’s Grand Final success in 1998 – the first year of the showpiece event – putting in a man-of-the-match performance to earn the Harry Sunderland trophy.
With lightning pace and a freakish eye for a gap, Robinson became one of the most elusive and exciting wingers in Super League, being named in the first ever Super League Dream Team in 1996. He was so impressive in his last few years at Wigan that he was named in the Dream Team of 1997, ’98, ’99 and 2000 before he decided to switch codes at the end of the 2000 season.
At the age of 26, the flyer still had a lot to offer and quickly became an asset to Rugby Union, scoring 30 tries in over 50 England appearances. He was also a part of the famous England side that lifted the World Cup in 2003.
Robinson had the honour of being just one of a few remarkable individuals to play for his country in both codes. The Yorkshireman racked up 12 appearances for Great Britain and seven for England in Rugby League, lighting up the world on an international scale with his untouchable speed.
But, the winger/fullback also revealed, in 2011, that his time at Wigan was fraught with issues. Indeed, Robinson found Christianity, the faith which he claimed saved his life.
In 2019, the Leeds-born Yorkshireman was appointed onto a panel of 21 to choose the 2019 Steve Prescott Man of Steel as part of a new weekly process.
Standing at just 5 ft 8 and weighing little over 80kg, Robinson was incredibly difficult to tackle. With the pace of a sprinter and the agility of a cheetah, the diminutive figure caused all sorts of havoc for opposition defences. If the lightening winger spotted a gap, that was it, a try would have been scored. It was therefore a great shame that the Leeds-born flyer decided to change codes just four years into the summer game of Rugby League.