Former Scotland skipper Ryan Wilson has recalled a brief run-in with legendary rugby hardman Jerry Collins when the pair squared off during a PRO12 match back in 2010.
Collins, who tragically died in car crash in France in 2015, will be remembered as one of rugby’s toughest tacklers. The 6’2, 109kg back row dominated collisions during his seven-year Test stint with the All Blacks and over the course of a wider 15-year club career with the Hurricanes, Toulon, Ospreys, Yamaha Júbilo and Narbonne.
Collins boasted biceps of 21 inches in circumference, comparable in size to that of Arnold Schwarzenegger during his reign as a bodybuilding champion in the 1970s. The Samoan born forward was a formidable figure on a rugby field, during a time when rugby union laws allowed for a lot more leeway in the contact zone.
Ex-Scotland captain Wilson was asked on The Offload podcast on RugbyPass, who the toughest players he ever faced were and Collins’ name was high on the list.
‘He [Stuart Hogg] reminded me of the time I played against the Ospreys and Jerry Collins.
“I might have accidentally cheap shotted him and he absolutely threw me around like a rag doll. Absolutely threw me about.
“I had a scar on my neck for about a month afterward from where he had pulled my shirt so tight. It was this purple line around my neck.
“He was a tough man to go up against, bloody hell,” concluded Wilson.
“He a tough player,” said co-host Jamie Roberts. “A tough player and a wonderful guy off the field.”
Former All Blacks and Hurricanes teammate Tana Umaga wrote about the menace possessed by Collins and how opponents made a point of steering clear of him his on the field. “Players understand that when you’re playing against Jerry Collins, you’ve always got to know where he is because you don’t want to look up and find yourself carting the ball straight into his channel. Teams are good at making up plays that keep their ball-carriers away from him.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 16, 2019
He was also a very generous man, as former Ospreys teammate Paul James pointed out in an interview with Wales Online recently. “He was unpredictable to the point where no-one knew what he was going to do. There are loads of stories about him.”
“One of them concerned the way he used to rock up on Saturdays or Sundays at random places. He’d have a look at a map of Wales and say to the taxi driver: ‘Take me there’. On this particular day, he turned up at some place in the valleys and asked the barman if could he watch TV.
“The reply came that the TV was in the corner, but it was a tiny one. JC then supposedly went across to the local Tesco, bought a 50-inch one and took it back to the pub, saying to the barman: ‘Plug that one in, mate’. He then watched what he wanted to watch and left the TV there. He was a very generous guy.”
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