Michael Collins: Wales qualified center aim to test themselves on biggest stage


Michael Collins is a former New Zealand Under-20 player
Place: Swansea.com Stadium Dated: saturday 2 october Time: 19:35 BST
Blanket: Live commentary from BBC Radio Wales on the BBC Sport website and app. Live commentary from Radio Cymru 2. Highlights on Scrum V, Sunday, BBC Two Wales and online, October 3 from 7:00 p.m. BST and later on request

While an Ospreys debutant at Gareth Anscombe impressed in the first league win of the season, it was another who received the man of the match applause.

Center Michael Collins scored two tries in the 27-23 win over the Dragons in his first league game since his summer transfer from New Zealand.

The 28-year-old played for the Auckland Blues and Otago Highlanders, before starting his second stint in Wales following a stint with the Scarlets in the 2015-16 season.

The good news is that this midfielder talent qualified in Wales thanks to his grandfather Llanelli, despite having played five times for the New Zealand Under-20s in 2013.

Wales coach Wayne Pivac watched Rodney Parade and coached Collins during his time at Parc y Scarlets.

Asked about his ambitions in Wales, Collins replied: “I guess I’ve always played down the importance of coming here a little bit, but as an athlete you always want to be competitive against the best players in the world and put yourself in environments where you challenge yourself.

“As cliché as it is, it’s about playing the best I can for the Ospreys. If I fit in and the doors open and I’m good enough to walk through them, then we’ll cross that bridge when we’ll get there.”

There is stiff competition in the midfield with Jonathan Davies, Willis Halaholo, Nick Tompkins, Owen Watkin, Johnny Williams and George North having started as Wales crosses in 2021, even before kicking off Scott Williams’ return.

Versatility always benefits the selection of international teams, with Collins having the ability to play at the back, although he admits that the center is his preferred position.

“I really want to be a midfielder, that’s fine with me right now,” said Collins.

“Thirteen is definitely where I want to play, but as long as I continue to have a few reps at 15 and keep that option open.”

Whatever happens on the international stage, Collins says he always wanted to return to Wales.

“I loved my time here before, Wales is a pretty special and rugby-crazy place,” said Collins.

“I have fond memories at Scarlets and have made some great friends.

“I was 22, still under contract with Otago, when I came in for about six to seven months as a medical joker for Scott Williams and Liam Williams.

“When I was younger I always wanted to play Super Rugby and I hadn’t done so the last time I was in Wales.

“If I had stayed here and hadn’t tried to achieve this goal, I probably would have retained a little regret.

“Coming back I managed to score a few goals in New Zealand, but I always knew I wanted to come back to Wales.”

Style and substance

That ambition came about when Ospreys head coach Toby Booth contacted Collins in 2020 and sold him his team’s vision.

“With Boothy here for about a year, you could see there was a young team and they got better every time,” added Collins.

“The way we try to play is my style and if you want to come into a team you want to be able to contribute. It has worked well.”

His contribution was evident as Collins intelligently crossed for the two trials against the Dragons at Rodney Parade.

“It was nice to contribute, coming into a new team you are always nervous and you want to perform and earn the respect of your teammates,” said Collins.

“It was also nice to get an away win there.”

Collins’ new boss, Booth, was glowing.

“He was awesome, he delivered a performance that we were hoping for and basically showed why we recruited him,” said Booth.

“He added to the controlling side of the game, he has the skills and backs up plays on offense and has a good kicking game.

“It was a pretty complete overall performance. He got into the red zone and had a few tries. We want players who can influence a game and he did.”

Another impressive display against Cardiff this weekend will not hurt his international ambitions.

“There is a lot of competition, which is why derby games are important for every player, because you stand out from your competition internationally,” added Booth.

“One of the reasons Mike was eager to come to us was to raise his hand for Wales. If he plays regularly like he did last weekend, he can’t hurt his chances. “


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