Homecoming of sorts for new Highlander

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A trip to Wanaka for Highlanders player Michael Collins will be a chance to reconnect with his Central Otago roots.
Collins joined the team for this season and this will be his first game for the Highlanders as they take on the Crusaders at the Farmlands Cup pre-season game on Friday January 24, kicking off at 6pm atthe Wanaka Showgrounds.
Wanaka is familiar to Collins, as his parents have lived in Queenstown for about 30 years and he grew up surrounded by the mountains.
Playing rugby in the regions as well as cricket for the Otago Country Cricket Association meant he knew the area well.
‘‘We played all around the show as you can imagine — there was a fair bit of travel.
‘‘So I’ve spent a fair bit of time through Central Otago, Alexandra, Wanaka, Queenstown.’’
He was looking forward to making the most of the time in Wanaka, and although he was a keen sailor he did not think he would have a chance to get out on the water during this trip.
Instead he would be helping out alongside other Highlanders players and the Upper Clutha Rugby Club with a free skills session for children.
Recalling some sessions he attended as a child, he said having a lot of fun and not taking it too seriously was important.
At that age it was about ‘‘playing with all your mates’’ and having fun mucking around.
Being able to remember the enjoyment of those lessons was just as important at that age so the participants would want to stick with playing rugby later on, he said.
This would be his first time playing against the Crusaders since joining the Highlanders, although he had played them during his time with the Blues in Auckland.
‘‘They are a good team, obviously’’.
Being in the right mindset before a game was about ‘‘developing a routine’’.
‘‘For me it is just about getting up at the right time, having a stretch, eating right, chucking a bit of music on and then mentally going through what you are trying to achieve in the game.
‘‘So when kick-off comes you are not too nervous, you are not too excited or too pumped up, you are just ready to go and have some fun.’’