Michael Collins - a 'Southern' Blues man
Michael Collins of the Blues (C) offloads the ball in the tackle of Andre Esterhuzien of the Sharks (L) during the Super Rugby match between the Auckland Blues of New Zealand and the Coastal Sharks of South Africa at Eden Park in Auckland on March 31, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MICHAEL BRADLEY (Photo credit should read MICHAEL BRADLEY/AFP/Getty Images)

Super Rugby has created a new ‘trade’ in professional sport. The old days of only playing for your regional franchise, has eased way for a clear pathway where players from outside a region can succeed in their chosen sport. And for Michael Collins, the ‘Southern’ Blues man is happy where he has decided to play.

The Queenstown born player spoke with Last Word on Rugby after his side’s Super Rugby fixture against the Sharks. Not a successful outing, but as such Collins takes it maturely. And that is how he applies himself to the game. Positive, intelligent which actually belies his 24 years. That maturity though, is an asset for the Blues and for Otago Rugby.

“I guess from down south, it was a big move, and yeah I guess with Otago you get used to it [adversity],” though that is not to say that Collins enjoys it. He says “we’ve still a chance. We’re not out of it [championship contention] and if we don’t believe in ourselves then no ones going to.”

And it is the attitude and mature awareness, that must have a positive influence on his team mates.

Michael Collins – a ‘Southern’ Blues man

In his second season with the Blues, Michael Collins is getting used to the big city. He is also getting used to, and being given the confidence of, the Blues selectors. Starting in the Week Two opening New Zealand conference game – a match in his local, Forsyth-Barr Stadium – to the win across in Johannesburg, and the next two games, Collins has played four of five matches.

While those results have only accounted for a single win, if you are wanting to identify consistencies, then look no further than Collins. Beside Akira Ioane, George Moala and Patrick Tuipulotu – whom Collins appeared with in this week’s ‘Team of the Week’ – the ‘Southern’ Blues man is a positive figure.

“It’s all in our control. We look forward to next week…and while we might be written off by the media and what not, at the end of the day we’ve got 40 people in the team. We are the only ones that can change it.”

And change must come. The tenure of Tana Umaga has not produced the resurgence that many would have believed. And while not within one player’s, or one coach’s power entirely, the group effort must surely be hoping to ‘change the storyline’.

Internal Competition can Motivate the Blues

“That’s the trick, just fitting into the gameplan and doing my role”. And he is in a backline that has many options. Melani Nanai and Matt Duffie – who missed the Sharks match – can all perform and are pushing each other at training. “What’s really good about this team, is that we all work off each other.”

Coach Tana Umaga during the Blues Super Rugby training session at Alexandra Park on February 21, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

“Week in, and week out, if somebody else plays there, then your prepared to help them out.”

Michael Collins still; like most players, has his work on’s. A popular term, like learnings or process, but it is the acceptance of that fact, which you sense when talking to Collins, that he means.

“I think when our kicking game was working, it was sweet. Probably there are still times to decide ‘when to kick and how often to kick’ but, Rome wasn’t built in a day. There’s positives there, and at the same time we can’t just scratch things if they don’t work in one game. We will get better.”

When mentioned that the Blues did score six tries, Collins was quick to retort, “yeah but we let in six. We know we can score points and stuff [the Blues came back well against the Lions in Jo’burg] but we have to show consistencies.”

So the views of the players is honest. Something you would expect form a player from Otago. And Collins has also traveled, signed by theĀ Scarlets in Wales on a short-term deal. So his range of experiences is a great balance, which when supported by the experience of Matt Duffie, the seniority of Jerome Kaino and the enthusiastic leadership of James Parsons, it shows that quality is employed by the Auckland Blues.

If they can flick that switch, to act on both systems and instinct, then success can be achieved. And with the next few games: the Chiefs and Sunwolves away, before meeting the Highlanders at home. Perform well, and entrust men like Michael Collins to show their abilities, then the franchise can make those positive changes that many know can be worked on.

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