Rovers Reflect On Dobson
Born in Junee in New South Wales in May 1986, Michael Dobson was an Australia schoolboy international who played junior football with Canberra Raiders. He first came to attention in 2006, when he did well enough on loan to Catalan Dragons, replacing the injured Stacey Jones, for Wigan Warriors to sign him on the following season to resolve their half-back crisis. Bottom of the table when he joined, Dobson scored six tries and kicked 61 goals in 14 appearances for Wigan, kick-starting a revival that resulted in a them finishing in fourth place that season.
The following season he broke through into Raiders first team, and was their top point-scorer with 124 in 18 games. In 2008, however, with Carney and Campese establishing themselves as Raiders’ first choice half-backs, Dobson was left on the sidelines. Canberra agreed to release him, and, seeking a replacement for the injured James Webster, Rovers beat Harlequins and Hull FC to his signature. Aged just 21, Dobson marked his Rovers debut at home to Harlequins on 25th May 2008 with two tries in a 22-8 win. From that day, he played in 78 consecutive games before being injured in the second game of the 2011 season.
In five and a half seasons with the Robins, Dobson played in 153 games, kicking 537 goals, plus 12 drop-goals, and scoring 53 tries. His 1,294 career points tally with the Robins makes him sixth on the club’s all-time list. He kicked over 100 goals in a season on three occasions, being most prolific in 2010, with 275 points from 114 goals, three drop-goals and 11 tries. In 2009, he won the Rugby Leaguer & League Express Albert Goldthorpe medal for the best and fairest player in Super League.
However, statistics alone do not fully reflect Dobson’s importance to Rovers. His organisation and kicking in the loose, whether for field position or creating try-scoring chances, his ability to take on the defence with ball in hand and his remarkable goal-kicking ability, made him the linchpin of the side. When Dobson played well, Rovers usually played well, and he was certainly the Robins’ most influential player during his time at the club. In 2013, he took over from Ben Galea the additional responsibility of being club captain.
Despite still having another year to run on his contract, Dobson exercised an option to return home and have another crack at the NRL in 2014. He felt as if he was at the peak of his career, and wanted to prove himself in his homeland. “It’s now or never,” he said at the time. He signed a one-year deal with Newcastle Knights and played his last game for the Robins in a play-off defeat at St Helens in September 2013.
Reflecting on his time at Craven Park, Dobson said, “I’ve loved it over here. I’ve had some great teammates, and a fantastic crowd – they are so vocal, they stay to the end whatever, and drown out the opposition.” He singled out the 2010 play-off derby win at the KC as being his most memorable game, and Ben Galea as the player who had the most influence on his Rovers career.
Sadly, his return to the NRL did not work out as Dobson had hoped, and he accepted an offer from Salford to return to Super League in 2015. He played for three seasons for the Red Devils before returning home.
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