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13th Jun 2022

Mack Hansen on the English club that almost signed him before Connacht

Patrick McCarry

Mack Hansen

“Once the opportunity came, it was too good to turn down.”

Mack Hansen is set to travel with Ireland to New Zealand, in the coming weeks, and get the opportunity to really cap off what has been a mightily impressive first season in this country.

Having arrived in Ireland for the first time, last summer, Hansen quickly settled into life at Connacht, scoring six tries in his first seven games. Qualified to play for Ireland through his mum, from Cork, the 24-year-old was then called into Andy Farrell’s Six Nations squad and was excellent in that campaign.

Although he always had half an eye on representing his mother’s homeland on the Test stage, Hansen came close to a club switch that would have impacted on such international ambitions.

On the latest House of Rugby URC episode [LISTEN from 15:30 below], Mack Hansen explained how his Connacht move came to pass, and the other club that was interested in securing his services.

Mack Hansen

Mack Hansen on Leicester Tigers interest

By now, most Irish rugby supporters will know how Mack Hansen was friends with Jackson Friend, son of Connacht head coach Andy Friend. The legend, for a while, had it that Hansen mentioned he was Irish qualified in the bar Jackson Friend was working in, a call was made to Galway and the rest was history.

Hansen explains that there had already been contact between himself and Andy Friend. He comments:

“I had already been talking to Andy. It’s not like Jackson got on the phone and said, ‘You need to sign this guy. He’s great on the piss, and he’s good on the field!’ It wasn’t anything like that.

“I was already talking to them, as they had tabs on me before that. It was just a coincidence that I was a mate of his son, and he was working at that bar that I’d always go to.”

Hansen says he made his mind up on the 17,000 kilometre upheaval from Canberra, and the Brumbies, to Galway. Despite the Cork links, there was no tangible reaching out from Munster and Connacht were in pole position.

Once it became clear that he would be moving from the Brumbies, up to Europe, a Premiership club got in contact.

“I had one more year with the Brums but, in my head, I was ready for something new. I was pretty close to going to Leicester Tigers for a bit, actually.

“Then that fell through, and Connacht contacted me. The rest is history.”

So, instead of lining out with the likes of George Ford and Ellis Genge, Mack Hansen pitched up in Galway and got straight to it. He scored seven tries in 18 appearances, for Connacht and Ireland, picked up a few man-of-the-match awards, helped bring home a Triple Crown and even showed his versatility by playing fullback in a couple of games.

He still smiles when he is asked about his first impressions of Connacht, the nightlife in Galway and running out at The Sportsground.

“Running across sand on a literal dog-track, to get to the field I found it was cool. It’s not something you’re going to see at any other professional programme in the world,” he says.

“My mates, back home, are all punters and loved that there was a dog-track. They were saying I could watch the dogs racing, after training. I love it. I wouldn’t change anything about it.”

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