Otago Daily Times

Ir­ish lock tak­ing ev­ery chance given

RUGBY

- STEVE HEP­BURN Sports · Rugby · New Zealand · Saint Patrick · Dunedin · Ireland · Dublin · Leinster · Ulster · Otago · Wellington, New Zealand · Emerald Isle, NC · Leinster Rugby

IN some ways, it was a well timed en­try to New Zealand for lock Jack Re­gan.

The big Ir­ish­man ar­rived in the coun­try on March 16, one day be­fore St Pa­trick’s Day — al­ways a good day for a man from the Emer­ald Isle.

But a few days af­ter some St Pa­trick’s Day fes­tiv­i­ties, things went de­cid­edly grim as the whole coun­try was put into a hard lock­down.

Re­gan, who had come to Dunedin to play a bit of club rugby and make an im­pact at the next level if pos­si­ble, had the op­por­tu­nity to hop on a plane and head back to Ire­land just be­fore the lock­down but wisely de­cided against it.

‘‘It has been great here. I’m kind of glad I did not go home. They didn’t start play­ing rugby there un­til like Au­gust,’’ he said.

Re­gan said Ire­land was still strug­gling with lockdowns but in New Zealand he had played a full club sea­son and was en­joy­ing Dunedin and its cli­mate.

He comes from a small town out­side Dublin which is not a rugby strong­hold. Hurl­ing and Gaelic foot­ball are the pre­ferred sports.

His fa­ther played hurl­ing to a top level but Re­gan pre­ferred rugby from a young age.

He played through age­group sides for Le­in­ster and then spent three years in the Ul­ster pro­fes­sional set­up. He also played for Ire­land un­der­20 sides.

But when noth­ing ma­te­ri­alised from that, manly due to a bad back in­jury which caused sci­at­ica, he looked round and con­sid­er­ing his op­tions.

Bron­son Ross, who played for Dunedin, and had links with Ir­ish rugby, asked him to con­sider com­ing and play­ing for Dunedin. He jumped at the chance and here he is.

A good club sea­son meant he was no­ticed by Otago coach Tom Don­nelly.

‘‘I’m lov­ing it here. Like the peo­ple. I’m liv­ing in a nice place. All the Otago boys are all great lads.’’

Ar­riv­ing at the time he did, he could not get his work visa pro­cessed for more than four months but was now mak­ing up for it.

‘‘It’s good get­ting a run of games. Back at Ire­land I didn’t re­ally get the op­por­tu­nity. The coach here trusts me to do a job.

‘‘I have got a role to do. I will just try and do it the best I can. Here it is quick and fast. In

Ire­land, there is huge in­cen­tive on scrum, maul, penalty and like. Here it is more of a plat­form to play from.’’

Re­gan (23) scored the win­ning try against Welling­ton last week as the ball bounced into his hands with the try­line just a cou­ple of me­tres away. He duly did the busi­ness for Otago to score an up­set win over Welling­ton.

‘‘When I scored it I sort of couldn’t be­lieve it re­ally. I don’t score too many and when I do, it takes a while to sink in.’’

Re­gan, like many, was un­sure of his fu­ture but said he was just mak­ing the most of the sea­son so far.

 ?? PHOTO: GRE­GOR RICHARD­SON ?? Mas­ter and pupil . . . Otago lock Jack Re­gan lis­tens to coach Tom Don­nelly ex­plain a li­ne­out move at train­ing at Lo­gan Park yes­ter­day.
PHOTO: GRE­GOR RICHARD­SON Mas­ter and pupil . . . Otago lock Jack Re­gan lis­tens to coach Tom Don­nelly ex­plain a li­ne­out move at train­ing at Lo­gan Park yes­ter­day.

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