From Dunmanway to Twickenham: Cork student preparing to line up alongside ex-Australia captain

A Cork student is preparing to pack down alongside a former Australia captain and South African international in the biggest match of his life.

From Dunmanway to Twickenham: Cork student preparing to line up alongside ex-Australia captain

A Cork student is preparing to pack down alongside a former Australia captain and a South African international in the biggest match of his life.

It'll be "by quite a margin" bigger than any game Danny Collins has played for his home club Dunmanway or UCC Under-20s when he takes to the field at Twickenham on Thursday for the 138th Varsity Match between Cambridge and Oxford.

None of this was planned, mind you. He arrived at the University of Cambridge in late September to study a PhD in Biology and, in his spare time, play a few sociable games of rugby.

He started out with Cambridge's second team two months ago but a prop shortage saw the 23-year-old drafted into the first-team squad by the end of November.

Now, he's on the bench for a game where, should he come on, he's set to be backed up in the scrum by second-rows James Horwill, who captained Australia at the 2011 World Cup, and Flip van der Merwe of Clermont.

“I’m ecstatic to be selected,” Collins told fitz.cam.ac.uk.

“I got into the Blues team towards the end of November. It’s quite a late jump. I’m really excited, even to be on the bench.

“It’s hard to tell how much time I’ll get – the Varsity match is completely different to any other game – but hopefully I’ll have some role to play.”

From looking for a casual game to playing at the home of English rugby, it's still about the fun of it all for Collins.

“I was just keen to join a team and play a decent level and sociable rugby.

“When I was called into the Blues squad, I was very excited, but also a bit apprehensive. I found myself in a situation where I’m playing first team, which is good fun and a serious level.

“It’s good to blow off a bit of steam after a few experiments not going the right way!”

As for the presence of Horwill and Van der Merwe, he says: “They’re great to have on the team. They bring that international spark. It’s great to hear them giving advice and tips.

“It’s a pretty big engine room – and having two internationals playing alongside each other is pretty cool.”

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