"He wouldn't have got in the All Blacks in this first selection anyway, so ner!"
In Collins' case New Zealand's loss will almost certainly be the northern hemisphere's gain. I certainly warmed to the Wellington flanker when it was reported last year that he'd turned out for the Barnstaple 2nd XV in order to get some rugby under his belt before playing for the Barbarians against South Africa last November. That he then sought to thank the Barnstaple club by wearing their socks for the BaaBaas was also, I thought, a great touch.
A story I failed to pick up on at the tail end of last year, however, was that one of the reasons Collins was in Devon last winter was to spend time with his English "love child" and the baby's mother, as revealed in what is obviously a quality New Zealand publication the Sunday News.
It's comforting to know that we in the UK are not the only ones who have to put up with such highbrow publications and I do find it hilarious that, in this day and age, rags like this will still refer to a baby born out of wedlock as a "love child". I mean, as scandals go, it barely registers on the scale does it? Collins is even reported to be fully supporting both child and mother for heaven's sake! (Although I suspect the fact that the child is a "Pommie love child" is actually what's upsetting the Sunday News editor).
Whatever the ins and outs of Collins' private life, players of his quality will be welcomed with open arms up here. There are many who say that importing foreign players stunts the development of young local players and, to an extent I'd agree, especially when it's obvious that the imports are either past their best and are merely topping up their pensions or are of no more than mediocre quality. However, in the case of Jerry Collins, one lucky club will be getting a 27 year old with bags of international experience who, arguably, has yet to peak and who can help develop local talent to meet his own lofty standards. I suspect that the queue for his services will be headed up by a number of French clubs, one of them possibly coached by a certain Monsieur Umaga.