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Opinion, Opinion

Jerry Collins, Former All Blacks Rugby Legend, R.I.P

Jerry Collins, Former All Blacks Rugby Legend, R.I.P
The late Jerry Collins and his late partner.
June 28
11:37 2015

Just like most rugby fans and people in general I was saddened to hear about the sudden death of Jerry Collins who was best known for being a former All Black rugby player and an important part of the Wellington Hurricanes Super Rugby franchise.

I first met up with Jerry about 10 years ago when he and fellow All Black, Byron Kelleher, came to Fiji to do some public relations work with Save the Children Fund and help build a kindergarten for the underprivileged in our society.

I was tasked with looking after both Byron Kelleher and Jerry Collins in the evenings during their brief trip to Suva and both players were very outgoing and pleasant to everybody they met.

What surprised me was the amount of food both these star rugby players could consume.

I remember we ordered a huge amount of food for the three of us and when it arrived at the table I was sure that we had made a mistake and ordered way too much, but to my astonishment they managed to consume it all.

The next surprise was after a night out on the town. It was about 3am and both Jerry and Byron insisted on jogging back to their hotel, which was about a 30-minute walk from where we were.

I remember thinking I am certainly not going to do that and flagged down a taxi and passed them as they were jogging to their destination.

Over the few days that we were together it was interesting to note that both athletes were very much dedicated to their sport and religiously every morning were either in the gym or in the swimming pool exercising and just ticking over and making sure they were still in peak condition regardless of this visit.

Jerry was a man of few words and really not as big as you would think.

Probably about six feet two inches and about 105 kilograms. But by no means a huge man, but he certainly made all his weight and strength count on the rugby field where he was one of the most feared players in the world.

He was certainly an intimidating looking person, but I found him to be very humble and caring individual once you got to know him.

Jerry was born in New Zealand on November 4, 1980, and during his early life he excelled at his favourite sport rugby; he even represented his secondary school St Patrick’s in Wellington and managed to win a host of fixtures with them.

After his standout performances at high school level he was selected to represent the New Zealand Under-19 team at the World Junior Championships in 1999 and was chosen as Player of the Tournament.

From this platform he debuted for Wellington in the same year and also began playing for the Wellington Hurricanes Super Rugby franchise.

By the tender age of 21 in 2001 Jerry got his call-up for the national team, the mighty All Blacks, and he went from strength to strength.

During his illustrious career Jerry ended up playing 48 times for the All Blacks from 2001 to 2007 and also 74 times for the Hurricanes from 2001 to 2008.

After finishing international duties Jerry went to play in France, Wales and Japan from 2008 until his untimely death just a few weeks ago.

Jerry Collins along with his partner Alana and their three-month-old baby Ayla were driving home on June 5, 2015 after an official engagement when their car lost control on the motorway in Southern France. Both Jerry and his partner Alana were killed instantly.

Their baby Ayla was taken to Montpellier Hospital in a critical condition. Only a few hours before I wrote this article good news surfaced that baby Ayla had regained consciousness after being in a induced coma.

Our thoughts and prayers are with both Jerry and Alana’s families at this difficult time and we pray for the continued recovery of baby Ayla.

The writer is a Fiji Sun columnist.

Feedback: ajayamrit@hotmail.com

 

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