By PHILIP CHANDLER
If anyone knows about the euphoria of winning New Zealand’s most famous rugby trophy, it’s Queenstowner Michael Collins.
The Otago captain, whose team took the Ranfurly Shield off Taranaki in Inglewood last Sunday, has amazingly been part of three successful Shield challenges.
In 2013, in his second season with Otago, the team beat Waikato 26-19 in Hamilton to win the Log o’ Wood and break a 56-year drought.
Then two years ago he was captain when they again lifted the Shield off Waikato — they then held it through last season till losing it in their last defence.
To add to this amazing feat, the 27-year-old utility back, in his debut for the Wakatipu Premiers last year, helped them take the White Horse Cup off Arrowtown.
Collins, who feels ‘‘pretty lucky’’ to have three successful Shield challenges under his belt, is hoping for a good crowd in Dunedin this Sunday for their first defence.
They’re playing Hawke’s Bay who took the Shield off Otago at their first defence in 2013.
He says the key to last Sunday’s victory was their halfback-first-five combination of Kayne Hammington and Josh Ioane.
‘‘That was probably the difference, to be honest.’’
Collins says he was delighted his parents Ruth and Kelvin were in the crowd.
He was also impressed with the small Inglewood stadium.
‘‘It’s probably the way Mitre 10 could potentially go, that you go to these sort of glorified club grounds because it was a pretty cool atmosphere in there.’’
Meanwhile, Collins, who played Super Rugby for the Dunedin-based Highlanders this year after three seasons with the Auckland-based Blues, says he’s looking to return to the Highlanders next year.