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Mack the Aussie knife ready to strike for Ireland

Mack Hansen is Ireland’s favourite Australian – and could become a national sporting hero in green with a grand slam rugby triumph this weekend.

Italy Ireland Six Nations Rugby Australian Mack Hansen scoring against Italy in one of his standout performances for Ireland.
March 18, 2023
By Ian Chadband
18 March 2023

Mack Hansen loves the craic, can’t help speaking his wandering mind and makes people howl with laughter even when dropping the odd F-word.

Oh yes, and he also happens to play rugby like a dream which, as a package, makes it little wonder that he’s become Ireland’s favourite Aussie.

And come Saturday night, the moustachioed Canberra flyer, now a cult figure in his adopted home, may well have joined their band of national sports heroes if he can help the men in green beat England to win only the fourth Six Nations grand slam in their history.

For in the world’s No.1 team, Hansen has become the joker beyond the pack, the winger with the X-factor who’s been so outstanding with his creating, finishing and defence that he was player of the match in both recent wins over Italy and Scotland.

After his two-try Italian job, he picked up his award, nearly knocked over a microphone stand, muttered “F***!” before then apologising profusely and rather hilariously in a clip that soon went viral.

Then this week, he cheerily set the agenda by observing that he probably “shouldn’t say too much” before doing just that, musing aloud: “I think everybody hates England in general”. 

You could almost imagine Ireland’s English coach Andy Farrell sighing at the 24-year-old giving the opposition’s team talk for them.

But that’s Hansen for you. A bit of a character, a maverick who’s become beloved by the good folk of Galway on Ireland’s west coast ever since he took a gamble, moved to his mum Diana’s homeland and turned his back on a Wallabies’ future.

When Ireland last beat England to win the grand slam at Twickenham in 2018, Hansen was combining his burgeoning rugby career with the Brumbies and Australia Under-20s with his trade as a trainee electrician.

But the man who memorably described himself as “the worst sparky in Canberra” began illuminating the Irish rugby scene as soon as he took up the offer to join Irish province Connacht in 2021.

And what a player. His performances have been dazzling at both provincial and Test level, ever since Farrell identified him as a “brilliant finisher” and “smart rugby player ... who sees things that put him ahead of the game.”

His excellence, having scored six tries in 13 Tests, inevitably led to questions about how this sure-fire Wallaby managed to bound away, but it’s too late for laments as Hansen is enjoying the time of his life in a country that loves his free spirit.

“I’m very happy where I am. The decision to play for Ireland has been the best decision of my career and my life. I’m loving it over here,” he explained before playing against the Wallabies – and beating them – in November.

“It is still nice to hear from your peers and people back home, but not once have I been upset or kind of thought, ‘what if I’d stayed there or not made the move?’.”

Hansen has laid down roots in his new home, buying a property on the outskirts of Galway while sealing a deal with Connacht that will see him at the club until the summer of 2025.

And what a time to be Irish – even one with a broad Aussie accent – as this one-time party animal could be about to join the biggest one of all in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day weekend.

“I’m so pumped for it, it’s going to be unbelievable … the crazier the better!” he smiled. “Paddy’s Day weekend, the script couldn’t be better for us.”

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