'He has battled through adversity to get to this stage': Ospreys sign Irishman Regan from New Zealand
Ospreys have confirmed their second signing from the Super Rugby Highlanders, Irish lock Jack Regan following utility back Michael Collins to the Welsh region in the hope that success for the club is just around the corner under Toby Booth. The three-year deal is a fantastic reward for the 24-year-old Irish forward who was told in 2020 that 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 15 months ago.
From there he worked his way into the province’s Mitre 10 Cup squad before going on to start the Highlanders’ opening two matches in Super Rugby Aotearoa, exposure that piqued the interest of clubs back in Europe.
“This is a great opportunity for me with the Ospreys and a team with such a proud history,” said Regan to the Welsh club’s website after inking his deal. “There was interest from other clubs but the squad there is building impressive performances and wins, and you just feel is heading for success.
“I just want to be a part of that and play my role and add some value to the squad. I cannot wait to get to Swansea and to get going. This a real chance to play at the top level and learn from the quality locks like Alun Wyn Jones, Adam Beard and Bradley Davies.
"Back in January, I didn’t have that belief I was able to play at this level but then when you play a few games and you know that the coaches trust you to do a job, that is really when you know you are part of the team." #SuperRugbyAotearoa
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“I have watched a lot of the Ospreys games and you can see Toby is giving young players a chance. For a young guy, that is very exciting. He trusts all the young lads to do a job for the team – you cannot ask for more than that from a coach. This is just a great opportunity for me to develop as a player after my experiences with Ulster and the Highlanders.”
The compelling story about how Regan gambled on going to New Zealand and saving his stalled career was something he recounted at length recently with RugbyPass, talking us 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.”
His new coach Booth added: “One of the great things about Jack is his back story, he has battled through adversity to get to this stage in his career. His determination and resilience are massive attributes for us to utilise going forward.”
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