Manly to rely on Mr Consistency

The last time Michael Robertson missed a game in the NRL, the Wests Tigers were the reigning champions, John Howard was still prime minister, and Russell Crowe was looking into buying the Rabbitohs.<br><br>It’s always risky asking a player about a streak he’s on – you never want to be the one who jinxes it – but with a record like Robertson’s, it’s too good to overlook.<br><br>“I missed Round 1 in 2006… and I haven’t missed one since, touch wood,” Robertson tells Big League.<br><br>The Manly winger has played every game for the Sea Eagles since making his debut for the club way back in Round 2, 2006, missing only nine minutes of football in his 123 consecutive games for the northern beaches side.<br><br>“I knew I was going alright, but Peter Peters made me aware of it when I was coming up to my 100th game straight,” Robertson reflects. “It’s obviously something I’m proud of, but as I’ve told a few people, playing on the wing helps you get a few games under your belt.<br><br>“It’s about looking after yourself, but a lot of it has to do with luck. There’s no secret here. It’s more ‘arse than class’,” the Valley Dragons junior says with a laugh.<br><br>While he hopes the streak can continue, Robertson is not one to dwell on his good fortune, pointing to the injuries of his back-three partners Brett Stewart and David Williams, as evidence of the unpredictability of a career in rugby league.<br><br>“Brett… the poor bloke, he’s had a wretched run with injuries lately. Hopefully he can have a good pre-season behind him and get stuck in there next year. <br><br>“Dave was unlucky, he dived for a ball in our last training session before Round 1 and stuffed his shoulder, so like I said, a lot of it has to do with luck, and Dave was just unlucky.”<br><br>And although having a good ride with injuries, Robertson has been anything but an idle passenger in his five seasons with Manly.<br><br>‘Robbo’, as he is known around Brookvale Oval, has never grabbed the headlines as much as his Origin and Kangaroos representative team-mates. But he’s nonetheless been among the club’s most consistent players.<br><br>As others in the side have seen their form move up and down over time, Robertson’s ability to stay at the top of his game over such a long period has been a big contributor to the stability Manly has achieved during the past few years.<br><br>Robertson’s luck with game time has no doubt helped him achieve that consistency, but it’s what he’s done with his minutes on the field that makes him one of the Sea Eagles’ unsung heroes.<br><br>Given half a chance, Robertson’s speed makes him one of the best at breaking the line in the competition, and his 56 tries in his five years with Manly, including finishing third on the NRL top tryscorer’s list in 2008 and scoring 10 from 19 games this year, has been an unheralded asset.<br><br>According to Robertson, however, his tryscoring feats have always been a bonus to what he has achieved with the team, quick to put out the tried line of the team coming first.<br><br>“I’d rather the team be winning and I don’t score one – I’d do a nudie run at the end of the year, actually! So long as the team is going well, I couldn’t really care if I score one or 20.”<br><br>Big League asked Robertson if he was on his way to replicating his 2008 effort of 18 tries, but he was quick to lower expectations.<br><br>“I don’t know about that,” he replied. “Obviously that was a great year for the team and for me personally, but I wouldn’t go that far.<br><br>“I’d like to get over a few more times actually. Everyone always wants to. I think Tony Williams is the leading tryscorer at our club at the moment, so I think I’ll have to get him first.<br><br>“We haven’t really mentioned it too much, but he knows he’s ahead of me by a few – I’m sure he’ll remind me. Steve Matai is around the same amount too, but I think big T-Rex is well ahead at the moment!<br>“I’d like to think [my finishing has improved]. We do a bit of work on it at training, and you always want to improve, and I think that’s gotten better the older I get.”<br><br>And although he’s unsure if he can match his 2008 efforts, Sea Eagles fans will be hoping the 27-year-old can replicate his most famous tryscoring feat for the club – his hat-trick against the Storm in the 2008 grand final – as the Sea Eagles face their arch-rivals at Brookvale Oval on Saturday. <br><br>Robertson says he has mixed memories against the Storm, citing the Storm’s victory in 2007 when Big League asked about the 2008 40-0 victory, and he admits his side’s form coming into the game has been far from ideal.<br><br>“We’ve been patchy all year. We play some really good footy, then some crap stuff. At this time of year it’s about stringing some wins together to get the momentum heading into the back end of the season, but at the moment we seem to just be playing good footy, then playing no good.”<br><br>But despite the team’s disappointing lapse against Newcastle on Monday night, Robertson was confident the rivalry with the Storm would bring out Manly’s best.<br><br>“We’ve had a great rivalry with the Storm for a few years, so I don’t think it’s going to be any different on Saturday, regardless of what’s gone on [with the salary cap scandal]. <br><br>“I think it’s a good rivalry in footy at the moment. They’re going to want to win, and so are we.”