Irish lock taking every chance given

Otago lock Jack Regan listens to coach Tom Donnelly explain a lineout move at training at Logan...
Otago lock Jack Regan listens to coach Tom Donnelly explain a lineout move at training at Logan Park yesterday. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
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 age-group sides for Leinster and then spent three years in the Ulster professional set-up. He also played for Ireland under-20 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.

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