Waratahs prop Tom Robertson plans to give the Lions an earful

25 July 2018 - 15:39
By Liam Del Carme
Tom Robertson of the Waratahs during the Waratahs training and interview Session at Fourways High School on July 24, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images Tom Robertson of the Waratahs during the Waratahs training and interview Session at Fourways High School on July 24, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

‘Pass the cheese sauce‚ please’ is the last thing that will flash through your mind as Waratahs’ prop Tom Robertson approaches.

Robertson‚ in town for Saturday’s Super Rugby semi-final against the Lions at Ellis Park‚ has the most celebrated cauliflower ear in all of Australian rugby.

It’s hard to look past the gnarly protrusion‚ a bit like the mole Austin Powers found so impossible to ignore in Goldmember.

Equally‚ had Robertson been cast as the tied up cop in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs‚ Mr Blond might have made a very different exit.

Naturally‚ the 23-year old’s teammates poke fun‚ but the third-year medical student who has considered wearing a hockey ball cut in half and a water polo helmet‚ takes it all in his stride.

He has the offending ear drained four times a week‚ at times using paper clips‚ and will probably have to wait until he retires from the game before surgical intervention becomes the most prudent course of action.

For now‚ rubbing ears is an occupational hazard and his most urgent order of business is engaging Lions and Springbok tighthead Ruan Dreyer in less than friendly friction on Saturday.

Being physically up to the task is the Waratahs’ primary concern‚ not that they want to dwell on the subject.

“The conditioning coaches have been all over us trying to adjust to the time zone‚” a relaxed Robertson said as the Waratahs prepared for training at their northern Johannesburg base.

The Waratahs winged their way out of Sydney on Sunday for an assignment that is tough but not insurmountable‚ as the Crusaders proved in last year’s final.

They have to shake jet lag and overcome the Highveld’s thin air against opponents who will want them to hyperventilate sooner rather than later.

Overcoming the jet lag is the easy part of the assignment.

“Just get out in the sun. Take a melatonin and stuff like that. Nothing fancy‚” said Robertson.

“We’re feeling pretty good now and we’re training at the time we will be playing just to try and get used to it‚” he said‚ with a self-assurance that suggest the Waratahs are determined to deal with whatever is thrown their way.

“It is about getting used to it throughout the week. All of us have played a game over here. We know what it feels like. Some of us have played a few Tests here.

“It is going to be a tight game so you never know whether it is going to go through the 80. Game management is crucial‚ kicking at the right time and giving the big boys a break when they need it.”

The Waratahs‚ once they grabbed the lead‚ masterfully manipulated the clock in the closing stages of their clash against the Highlanders last weekend.

On Saturday however‚ they will more than likely have to manage the clock from the start.