SYDNEY - Wallabies prop Benn Robinson enters the new Super Rugby season in his best shape for some time as he strives to re-establish himself as a Wallaby starter after one of the toughest years of his career.
In 2013, NSW Waratahs and Wallabies scrum anchor Robinson found himself left out of both starting sides at different stages of the season.
He didn't start the Waratahs first Super Rugby game and was the high-profile omission from new Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie's initial squad for the Rugby Championship.
Robinson was recalled for the latter part of that tournament and went on the Spring tour, but his past seven caps were all won off the bench behind James Slipper.
He missed the Scotland Test last November after he was one of six players stood down for a late-night drinking session in Dublin.
"It was very tough," Robinson said reflecting on his year in 2013.
"To go through the events that happened last year, it was probably one of my tougher years, on the field and off the field as well.
"I think off the field, there's always the challenges there and there was all those highlighted events that we had."
"Missing out (on the Wallabies' squad) was always tough. The toughest thing you can do is to get dropped from a side that you love dearly.
"Then you get brought back in the side and have some success. It was a very pleasing thing for me."
Robinson said he felt he continued to improve as a player and had a pretty good season with NSW, culminating in him winning their best forward award.
He spoke to McKenzie on the Spring tour about what he needed to do to regain a starting spot, which he virtually had a mortgage on from 2008 to last year.
"It's about not just offering up, scrummaging or tackling, just making sure that I'm across the board and continually improving as a player in all aspects," Robinson said.
The 29-year-old prop heads into the Waratahs' Super Rugby season opener against Western Force in Sydney on Sunday delighted with his state of fitness.