Paul Kitchener Collins
- 308Wallaby Number
Paul Collins was a promising fly half blessed with an outrageous sidestep who, like many of his peers, had his international rugby career cut down in its prime by World War II.
Born in Sydney, Collins entered Barker College on Sydney’s north shore at just eight years of age where he revelled in the company of many strong country lads. Collins, something of a school idol, was a prefect, won colours in athletics, cricket and rugby. He also debated, boxed and was a member of the cadets.
In 1935 Collins caught the eye for Western Suburbs when he showed ‘great form’ in the early club trials and it was said that he ‘may develop into a high class five-eighth.’ A year later his club performances had him ‘well in the running’ for a New South Wales jersey for the interstate carnival however ‘Shirts’ Richards, Ron Rankin and St. George’s Bill Powell were preferred.
Impressive form in the early rounds of the 1937 club season earned the ‘vastly improved’ Collins a debut for New South Wales in the second interstate match against Queensland. Unfortunately a severe contusion on his left thigh then forced him to withdraw from the Possible v. Probables trial ahead of the visit by South Africa. As a consequence ‘Shirts’ Richards secured the fly half jersey for the opening Test but then suffered the recurrence of a knee injury at training and withdrew from the second match to hand Collins his debut. He had a ‘splendid’ debut and ‘demonstrated that more confidence should be placed in the younger players in the restoration of Australia’s rugby prestige’. Syd Malcolm wrote in the The Sydney Mail that Collins seemed ‘destined to take his place in New South Wales and Australian teams for some years.’
The Collins / Richards rivalry extended through until the 1939 season when both were named as the fly halves for the ultimately abandoned Second Wallabies tour to Great Britain. Upon his return to Australia Collins enlisted in the 2nd Australian Imperial Force where he spent two years each in the Army and then the RAAF.
Paul Collins played three Tests for Australia in a two-year international career.
Collins won his first Test cap at fly half, paired with Jan McShane, in the 2nd Test, 17-26 loss to South Africa at the S.C.G.
‘Shirts’ Richards started at fly half in the 1st Test, 9-24 loss to New Zealand but chipped a bone in his shoulder and was ruled out for the remainder of the series. Collins came in for the 2nd Test, in combination with debutant Cecil Ramalli,for the 14-20 defeat in Brisbane and that halves pair were retained for the 3rd Test 6-14 loss at the S.C.G.