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Laura Hanlon touches base with Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness Elite Athlete Program member and Wallaby, Tom Robertson.

First memory of picking up a rugby ball?

It was back in Dubbo when I was around eight-years-old. I used to play soccer and my Dad took me to watch a local game and I was passing a footy along the sidelines watching some of my schoolmates play, I guess the rest is history.

You became capped Wallaby 898 in the 60th minute of the Test against Argentina at NIB Stadium, Perth, on Saturday 17th September, 2016. What was running through your head as you took to the field?

It’s a pretty boring answer to be honest. I was literally just thinking about what I had to do when I got on the field. There is a lot of pressure to perform and I didn’t want to stuff anything up so that’s it really.

Balancing a full-time medical degree at the University of Sydney with a professional rugby career is no easy task. What’s your secret?

There are no big secrets. I love playing footy and I find medicine really interesting so studying and training isn’t really a chore. I also live at home and have a very supportive family which is a big help.

What is the rough weekly study to rugby ratio?

It depends if I’m with the Waratahs or the Wallabies but it’s generally around 50:50. Professional rugby is pretty strict around  time commitments with team training but Sydney University has been really helpful and flexible with my studies and  a lot of the material is online making it easier to fit studying around training.

Have you found any transferrable skills which you can apply across your two worlds, rugby and study?

There definitely are transferrable skills. I was never the most talented person sporting wise, or the smartest, but I train and study pretty hard. It’s very cliché but I like the quote that, “hard work beats talent,” because it is very relevant to my circumstances. If my preparation is bad, my performance will be, whether that is a Rugby game or an exam.

How important is your support network in keeping you on track?

Very important, as I said I live with my parents and my mum is definitely my biggest supporter. She has dinner ready whenever I get home from training or studying and does all the little things around the house that allows me to get an extra half an hour sleep to recover or to study that makes a huge difference.

What did you enjoy most about returning to play club rugby for Sydney Uni and how does it feel to be playing alongside fellow Sydney University Football Club (SUFC) representatives on tour with the Wallabies?

It was good to come back and support SUFC through their finals campaign. I played with them for three years before I went to the Waratahs and they helped me out a lot. Guys like Tim Leahy, Tim Davidson, Chris Malone and even the great Tom Carter have been a massive help in my rugby development and I felt obliged to try and repay my debt to them so to speak. It’s great having Wallabies’ boys that came through SUFC. There are some interesting stories that are told about current and past players that always makes for a funny conversation.

It’s all about the merchandise – What is your favourite piece of free kit so far?

RM Williams boots, easy choice.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now?

That’s a very good question to which I have no exact answer. I would be towards the end of my sporting career and I wouldn’t mind heading overseas for a year or two. I hopefully would’ve finished my medical degree and considering doctors study for most of their lives I would say I might be doing some sort of study, maybe I won’t have left Sydney Uni! Who knows…

SUFC will face off against the Hindu Rugby Club from Argentina on Tuesday, 28 Feburary. Entry is free and gates will open at 4.00pm at The University of Sydney’s Oval No 2. More details here.  

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