Cornwall RLFC pick up former rugby union and Balmain Tigers hooker

Cornwall RLFC have completed the signing of hooker Luke Collins for the 2022 Betfred League 1 season.

The 24-year-old was born in London but emigrated with his family to Australia when he was just five. During his formative years growing up in Sydney, Collins played both rugby league and rugby union.

It was the 13-player code in which Collins caught the eye and he represented the famous Balmain Tigers club at age-grade level. The Tigers are the third most successful Australian club behind South Sydney and St George. In 2000, Balmain merged with Western Suburbs Magpies to become the Wests Tigers but the new entity continues to be connected to Balmain.

Collins also represented the North Sydney Bears at under-18 level – another club that are no longer in the top tier of Australian rugby league after a merger with Manly Sea Eagles that lasted just two years from 2000 to 2002. The Bears currently play in the New South Wales Cup, Australia’s equivalent to the rugby league Championship on these shores. They also act as a feeder club to NRL heavyweights the Sydney Roosters.

More recently, Collins has been playing rugby union in the Netherlands for RC Hilversum with the club playing in the Ereklasse – the top level of Dutch rugby union.

“When my manager said there was an opportunity to be a part of Cornwall, a brand-new club in a strong comp, it was an opportunity I didn’t want to turn down,” Collins told cornwallrlfc.co.uk. “It isn’t very often that you get to part of something right from the very beginning and I have been to Cornwall a few times. It is a very tight-knit community with a real hunger for sport.

“This isn’t an opportunity I will take lightly because it’s not every day you get offered a professional contract in an English comp. It has always been a goal of mine to play professionally and to play professionally in England. I have family that have never seen me play before so I have just grabbed this opportunity with both hands.”

Cornwall RLFC head coach Neil Kelly admitted that he’d been tracking Collins for some time, whilst quite rightly revealing that his capture was a major feather in the Choughs’ cap.

“Luke’s signing is a real coup for the club,” Kelly said. “He is a player we have been talking to for a while now so to finally get his signing over the line further demonstrates our desire and commitment to progress the club forward in League 1.

“He is English, but has spent most of his time in Australia where he has played both codes of rugby. He’s done well with his club side in Holland and has helped them reach the top eight play-offs over there. He has been an integral player for Hilversum and we expect him to be an integral player for us.”

Meanwhile, Cornwall RLFC general manager Gareth Reid added: “I am very happy we have secured Luke’s signing for the 2022 season.

“He comes from good rugby league stock having competed in the age-grade rugby for two of Sydney’s biggest and most well-known clubs. And covering some key positions as a hooker or half-back, we expect him to play a big role in the squad this season when he arrives.”

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