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'I didn't know if he was taking the p*** or not': Ireland's new Aussie-born wing's shock rise

(Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Former Brumbies utility Mack Hansen says words from coach Andy Farrell inspired an unforgettable Test debut for Ireland after initially suspecting his selection may be a wind-up.


Australia-born Hansen was thrust into Saturday’s Six Nations opener against defending champions Wales and responded with a man-of-the-match display on the wing in a crushing 29-7 win.

The 23-year-old teed up fellow Connacht man Bundee Aki for the early opening try in Dublin and did not look back as he remained a constant threat on the left flank.

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Hansen, whose mother hails from Cork, originally learnt of his place in the team from Aki but was not entirely convinced his team-mate’s information was genuine.

“Bundee told me I was in the squad but I hadn’t heard anything or seen an email, so I didn’t know if he was taking the p*** or not,” said Hansen. “It was a bit hard to believe him.

“When the sheet came up and it had my name up, I was just stoked, absolutely stoked to be involved with this team and it was great.

“I’m trying to breathe it all in. I’m feeling pretty amazing, to be honest.”


Of advice received from Farrell, Hansen added: “He said: ‘if you can’t be yourself, there’s no point putting on the jersey’.

“When Andy says something like that it sticks with you. Just go out there and enjoy yourself, that’s all you do at the end of the day.”

Hansen’s elevation came on the back of some scintillating displays at provincial level since moving to Galway from the Canberra-based Brumbies.

The United Rugby Championship’s leading try scorer, who filled the void left by the injured James Lowe, made an emotional phone call home at full-time.


“”I gave my parents a call. It was good to talk to mum and dad and my brother Jake to enjoy this experience with them.

“They were just stoked for me, they were proud. They were a bit the same as me, speechless.”

The former Australia Under-20 player is well placed to retain his spot away to France next weekend after impressing coach Farrell.

“We’re not surprised – he’s got the temperament for handling debuts,” Farrell said of Hansen’s maiden display.

“He’s very cool, calm and collected in how he plays the game and it suits how we play as well.”

Captain Johnny Sexton said of Hansen: “He’s got a game which is made for international rugby, so hopefully he continues to grow with us. It’s a great start for him.”


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