Promising young Queenstown rugby player Michael Collins is buzzing after making his first-class debut for Otago.
Collins, 19, played the full 80 minutes in an ITM Cup warm-up game against Southland in Balclutha last Friday.
“That was awesome being chucked out there,” he says.
Otago squeaked home 33-32 – its first win over Southland since 2008.
Collins thinks he got a start so that regular second-five Glenn Dickson – who came on in the second half – could rest a troubled ankle.
Asked the main difference between club and provincial rugby, Collins says: “It obviously is a bit faster but you just get hit real hard and then you’ve got to get up and sprint again.
“I held my own, I think, but there’s always stuff to improve on.”
Collins – who was watched by his parents and grand-parents – says his build-up was helped by mixing with squad members at a camp in Owaka, near Balclutha.
“Obviously we’d based a lot of our stuff around what it’s like to be an Otago and a Southern man and it’s finally good to get that feeling.”
Collins played for New Zealand Schools last year and captained the Otago Boys’ High First XV.
In November he signed a three-year contract with the Otago Rugby Football Union and joined the extended ITM Cup squad.
This year he’s studying commerce at Otago University and played for the Taieri club team which won the Dunedin premier competition.
Otago’s ITM Cup campaign starts this weekend.
Otago player Michael Collins had his first first-class game in Balclutha last weekend