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Collins has 'special place' in Welsh rugby

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Lynn McConnell     09 Jun 2015     Getty Images

Welsh rugby writer Delme Parfitt described his impact on the Ospreys side for Walesonline.co.uk.

Collins and Welsh and British and Irish Lions wing Shane Williams attended a presentation evening at a regional rugby club, Brynamman, to pass out trophies, feature in a Q and A session and undertake the usual autographs and photos demands.

Williams was the local star but Collins was the centre of attention.

"Appreciative punters fell over themselves to offer the New Zealander a drink. He point-blank refused to accept a single one.

"Brynamman said they would sort out Collins' transport from his house to the club. He wouldn't hear of it.

"They offered food. Not necessary.

"Collins simply explained, politely, that to be invited to such occasions was a privilege, that he enjoyed coming and if there were any thank yous in order they were due from him to Brynamman.

"It was an evening that said much about Collins the man, and the impact he had – off the field as well as on it – during the two years he spent in Welsh rugby with the Ospreys," he wrote.

Collins' signing had captured the interest of all followers of regional rugby in Wales.

"Some figures in the rugby fraternity have the capacity to earn a special kind of respect in the hearts and minds of fans from other nations. Collins managed just that with the Welsh."

Collins had played four Tests against Wales, and made his mark with his shattering tackle on Colin Charvis in Hamilton – an incident which saw Tana Umaga attend to the stricken Charvis in a response that was honoured by the Laureus Awards for its sportsmanship.

"He was a quiet, unassuming character who appeared almost permanently to wear the wide-eyed grin he was often snapped sporting away from the field.

"Collins wasn't a shouter, he wasn't a tea cup thrower, he wasn't somebody who, because of what he'd done in the game felt the need to throw his weight around.

"Instead, Collins made his presence felt in a more subtle way around the Ospreys' training HQ in Llandarcy.

"If he felt things needed changing tactically he would either have a quiet word with the coaches at an opportune moment or speak in a measured way among huddled team-mates when the chance arose. And when he spoke his team-mates, for obvious reasons, listened.

"The important thing was that Collins DID make his presence felt, and the fact he did it with humility only increased the respect others already had for him."

Parfitt said his passing would be felt beyond the Ospreys region, especially in New Zealand and Parfitt noted: "But through so often being the scourge of our nation at Test level, and through what he brought to bear at the Ospreys, Collins secured a special place in the consciousness of Welsh rugby."