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Brittany Mitchell
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Brittany Mitchell graduated recently as a sports journalist having been a rugby fan from a young age. She interned at Inside Rugby Magazine, New South Wales Rugby Union and the Australian Rugby Union before joining ESPNscrum. You can find her on twitter @BrittMitchell11
ITM Cup
Beau Robinson better for ITM Cup experience
Brittany Mitchell
October 31, 2013
Beau Robinson "learned a few things and I think it was good to be around coaches with a lot of different views" © Getty Images
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The Lions' Mako Vunipola clashes with the Reds' Beau Robinson, Reds v British & Irish Lions, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, June 8, 2013
Beau Robinson played against the Lions but suffered a concussion due to Mako Vunipola © PA Photos
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As Bill Pulver continues his plans for a Super B competition and an Australian ITM Cup-style national club competition, Beau Robinson, openside flanker for Queensland Reds, has returned to pre-season training after completing a stint with Bay of Plenty Steamers in New Zealand's national provincial competition.

One of a handful of Australian players to make the cross-Tasman trip to play in the ITM Cup this season, Robinson believes the experience has helped him grow as a player as well as a person. The Steamers were relegated, but Robinson says he had a great experience that allowed him to get a better understanding of the New Zealand culture of rugby.

"I really enjoyed the experience," Robinson told ESPNscrum in an exclusive interview. "Obviously having a lot of downtime this year in Super Rugby through injury, I was really excited to get out there and get on the park at a quality standard.

"I think I already understood their rugby culture - how it works and their depth and whatnot anyway; I suppose it was just reconfirmed more than anything. But it was definitely beneficial to head over there, I learned a few things and I think it was good to be around coaches with a lot of different views and philosophies, and players as well."

Some members of the New Zealand press have begin to question the place of ITM Cup rugby in the national system, but Robinson thinks the tournament still plays its part in creating great depth in New Zealand rugby.

"It definitely helps those players try get through," Robinson told ESPNscrum. "Not necessarily at the All Blacks level directly, but I think Super Rugby level and providing an opportunity for players to receive exposure and push for selection in the Super Rugby teams. Then obviously depth in the Super Rugby leads to more depth in the All Blacks, which you can see; they can lose one or two key players in certain positions and it doesn't affect the team or their ability."

Beau Robinson would "definitely" go back to New Zealand for a second stint in the ITM Cup © Getty Images
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No matter that Robinson understands the benefits of the ITM Cup to New Zealand rugby, he doubts whether Pulver and the Australian Rugby Union can create a similar competition in Australia; he also doubts the legs of Greg Growden's thought-provoking suggestion to seek two places for Australian teams in the ITM Cup.

"I'm yet to hear what the final details of the Super B competition are," Robinson told ESPNscrum. "If it is to be referred to as the Super B, I think it sounds a little bit degrading. I also don't think it would be financially viable to send players to New Zealand to play in the ITM Cup: yeah if we had the funds to do it; but plain and simple we don't. So we can't afford to be putting money into that. It sounds similar to the competition that we had in 2007 back here in Australia."

Robinson would certainly be interested in playing in a national club competition in Australia, Pulver may have competition for his interest. "I'd obviously get involved. But again I'd like to see the final details. All I've heard is whispers and rumours ... [until] there's something concrete, I probably won't think too much about it."

Robinson said also that he would head back to the ITM Cup if the opportunity arose but the physical strain of playing saying a full year of Super Rugby and ITM Cup "could be a bit tough on the body".

"I only took a week off before going into pre-season, so I wouldn't want to do that again," Robinson told ESPNscrum of his pre-Super Rugby break. "I'd be quite fatigued by the time Christmas rolled around. But the rugby side, yes, definitely I'd like to go back."

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