REPORT: Highlanders duo linked to Euro move
TRANSFER TALK: Welsh region Ospreys are reportedly set to sign two Highlanders Super Rugby Aotearoa players, former Scarlets back Michael Collins and former Ireland age-grade lock Jack Regan.
The pair performed impressively in last season’s Mitre 10 Cup with Otago, Collins captaining the side, and they have since gone on to feature in the recent Super Rugby tournament with the Highlanders.
Although a born and bred New Zealander, Collins would be a valuable addition for the Ospreys as he is Welsh qualified through his grandparents – which means he won’t be viewed as an overseas player – and he also has experience of the west Wales scene having featured for Scarlets in the 2015/16 PRO12 and Champions Cup season.
The soon-to-be 28-year-old utility played on 15 occasions before heading back to New Zealand to spend two Super Rugby seasons with the Blues in Auckland and then heading down to South Island and linking up with the Highlanders.
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The Otago Daily Times have also reported that Highlanders Irishman Regan, who started the first two games of their recent Super Rugby campaign, is also heading for Ospreys after remarkably rescuing his career which seemed to have reached a dead end.
Set to turn 24 on May 9, it was early 2020 when he was told he was being released by Ulster after three years in their academy. Fearing his career was over after just a single PRO14 appearance, he followed up a call from out of the blue to play a season for Dunedin in the local Otago leagues by arriving in New Zealand just over a week before the country went into lockdown.
That is a story he recounted at length recently with RugbyPass, talking through his career which started at Birr, the grassroots Co Offaly club, and culminated in a Super Rugby debut in February where within two minutes he was singled out for some rough stuff by All Blacks prop Joe Moody.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Regan at the time. “It was two minutes into the game and we had a maul. I just grabbed the collar of his jersey and he just lost his s***, didn’t he? I couldn’t believe it. I was getting hit in the head. In my head I was like, ‘Happy days, he is getting a red card here’. So I didn’t retaliate, I just left him to hit me.”