27 Jerry Collins [2001-2007] CAPS 48

NZ Rugby World - - Brand Standing -

Any­one who was ever tack­led by Jerry Collins re­mem­bered it. Collins had a way of mak­ing his pres­ence felt. He was bru­tal. He was lethal at times in the way he could de­stroy the hard­est ball­car­ri­ers by lin­ing them up and knock­ing them down.

Collins es­tab­lished with­out am­bi­gu­ity what be­ing an en­forcer looked like. For five years he played along­side Richie McCaw and Rodney So’oialo in the All Blacks back row and he brought re­lent­less in­tim­i­da­tion with him.

He wore the No 6 jer­sey with an un­der­stand­ing of ex­actly what that meant. He threw him­self into ev­ery col­li­sion, looked to win the phys­i­cal bat­tle for 80 min­utes.

What he did was es­tab­lish a base­line for all other New Zealand blind­sides to as­pire to. He made it clear what level of phys­i­cal­ity had to be brought to the job and by do­ing that, he sent a mes­sage to other teams about what the All Blacks were all about.

Nowhere was that bet­ter demon­strated than when he tack­led Colin Charvis in June 2003. Collins hit Charvis so hard that the Welsh­man was out cold be­fore he hit the ground. It was one of those tack­les that re­ver­ber­ated around the world and tight­ened the leg­end of Collins.

His rep­u­ta­tion be­gan to pre­cede him af­ter that – ev­ery­one knew he was an en­forcer, hun­gry to im­pose him­self and he gave the All Blacks pack an aura again. He gave them a vibe which said that while they played fast and at­trac­tive rugby, they had an edge to them as well.

Collins be­came a cult fig­ure and such was his stand­ing in the world game that there was noth­ing but sad­ness and shock when he was killed in a car crash in 2015, lead­ing his peers to make heart­felt eu­lo­gies.

“You al­ways knew he had your back,” said All Blacks cap­tain Richie McCaw. “He was in the se­nior lead­er­ship group. He didn’t say a lot. He would say some things that would some­times be ran­dom and some­times be bang on. He would sit and lis­ten. He was a smart man but he didn’t want to give that im­pres­sion. He was pretty on to it and he o ered a di er­ent per­spec­tive.

“Unique is prob­a­bly the right word. He was hugely gen­er­ous to peo­ple. He would turn up and do things with kids that per­haps the hard per­son that you’d see at times didn’t match up. He’d give his time will­ingly to peo­ple and touch peo­ple in a way that oth­ers would never con­sider.

“I think of that story when he played a club game in what­ever divi­sion. Most of us it wouldn’t cross our minds but that was some­thing he would do. That was

the unique side of him.

“I can re­mem­ber in 2003 – I was talk­ing to Aaron Mauger about this – and the World Cup quar­ter­fi­nal against South Africa. He [Collins] ab­so­lutely flat­tened Thi­nus Del­port and the whole team looked at that and prob­a­bly sub­con­sciously took a step back.

“And our team prob­a­bly went the other way and it is mo­ments like that I cer­tainly en­joyed hav­ing him in my team.

“He did the same against us [Cru­saders] when he got Chris Jack a year later. You know when a guy is ca­pa­ble of some­thing like that you would much rather have him in your team. Like I say, I’d al­ways have a wee eye out for him es­pe­cially when you had the ball.”

UNIQUE IS PROB­A­BLY THE RIGHT WORD. HE WAS HUGELY GEN­ER­OUS TO PEO­PLE. HE WOULD TURN UP AND DO THINGS WITH KIDS THAT PER­HAPS THE HARD PER­SON THAT YOU’D SEE AT TIMES DIDN’T MATCH UP.’ RICHIE McCAW

DEAD STRAIGHT Jerry Collins had no soft edges.

NO FEAR Collins de­liv­ered per­for­mances that were all about en­force­ment.

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