Bernard Jackman has explained how the recommendation of a Canberra-based barman led to Mack Hansen signing for Connacht.
Hansen has been in superb form since joining Connacht from Australian Super Rugby side the Brumbies at the start of the season, having scored five tries in his six appearances for the province.
The Australian-born winger, who qualifies for Ireland through his Cork-born mother, was again in fine form for Connacht at the weekend, as he scored his side’s first try against the Ospreys in a convincing 46-18 victory.
Jackman was speaking on RTE’s Against The Head and explained how Connacht head coach Andy Friend came to sign Hansen from the Canberra-based Brumbies.
Bernard Jackman on Mack Hansen’s Connacht signing.
“Andy Friend’s son drank in the same pub as him and basically they became friends. Apparently he’s good craic, he’s a bit wild,” Jackman explained.
“Andy heard that he had an Irish passport, so when he went home [to Canberra] he went for a chat and asked the barman what kind of character he was, and he said he’s a good fella.
“He got called in, let’s not forget, the week of the Japan game. He got called in because apparently [Australia head coach] Dave Rennie was sniffing around him. He’s been in the Australian system but didn’t hit the heights that he’s hit now.
“He’s a sevens player. He has come to a wet and windy Galway, conditions that he would have never played in before.”
“He thought the game was going to get called off beforehand,” Eddie O’Sullivan interjected. “Nobody told him that’s how it works around here.”
— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) November 29, 2021
The Australian-born winger could soon play for Ireland.
Hansen remains eligible to play for the Wallabies, after Rugby Australia relaxed their eligibility rules and started selecting overseas-based players more regularly, but he currently looks more likely to play for Ireland.
The Connacht winger was called up to Ireland’s squad for the Autumn Nations Series, and while he didn’t win a cap for the men in green, it does show that Andy Farrell thinks highly of him.
Ireland currently have plenty of depth on the wings, with the likes of Andrew Conway, James Lowe, Keith Earls and Robert Baloucoune playing well for their countries during November, but Hansen could soon force Farrell’s hand.
The former Australia U20s player can also play at full back, and at the age of 23, he has plenty of time to get even better.