Jerry Collins has switched codes.
As his former All Blacks teammates prepared for the test against Ireland at Westpac Stadium on Saturday, Collins instead made a surprise appearance for North City's senior first league side at Wainuiomata's humble Wise Park.
Collins, who shouted both teams drinks after the game, put in a low-key showing in a 34-30 loss to Wainuiomata, though word soon got out that he had played under a fake name, which is likely to cost Norths a $250 fine.
Norths' senior firsts coach Solo Luapo said Collins had a ball playing league but admitted that not clearing the move with the Wellington Rugby League would cost the club.
"He's got some friends and some cousins that play and he was just having fun with the guys," Luapo said.
"Apparently, I'm in trouble. You've got to be registered but it was an agreement between us and Wainui that we'd let him play, they okayed it so we played him."
Wellington Rugby League chairman Stephen Franks welcomed Collins' desire to play league - but would not back down from punishing the club.
"He's an inspiration, and we love having him back in our game," Franks said. "But he's also serving as an example in another way.
"A rule of the game is that players must be registered with a team before they play.
"No doubt the committee will take into account what he brings to the game [and] we'll want to make sure we see more of him playing.
"But the rule ensures that the top players cannot shuffle from team to team, distorting the results."
Collins was vague on his footballing future when announcing that he had gained an early release from his New Zealand Rugby Union contract last month.
- The Dominion Post
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