European Championships absence gives John Collins fresh perspective ahead of World Cup II

John Collins returns to the men’s quadruple scull after missing the European Championships and says his time out of the boat in Racice served him well


John Collins at World Rowing Cup 1 in Belgrade - Naomi Baker

Illness forced John Collins to miss May’s European Championships at the last minute, but the 28-year-old sculler says his time out of the boat has provided him with a fresh perspective ahead of the second World Rowing Cup event of the year in Poznan.

The Twickenham rower, who took victory at the GB Rowing Team Senior & U23 Trials in April, still travelled to Racice and was able to watch his crew – Jonny Walton, Jack Beaumont, Pete Lambert and Tom Barras – race to fourth in a world-class field.

Collins took on the roles of coach, boat cleaner and cheerleader in the Czech Republic, giving him a greater appreciation of what goes on outside the boat, as well as what his coach, Paul Stannard, is looking for from the bank.

“It’s really good to be back. I think I learned quite a lot by following the racing at the Europeans, so to come back with a fresh perspective on things has been really constructive,” Collins said.

“It has definitely opened my eyes as to what goes on behind the scenes and I learned a lot from the people we raced – I noticed things about the other crews that I hadn’t seen before and about my own crew as well. It gave me an appreciation for all the hard work the coaches put in as well.”

GB finished fourth in Racice – just two tenths of a second behind Italy in third. This after a hard-fought repechage the day before where they edged Estonia for a place in the A final by half a second.

“It gave me an appreciation for all the hard work the coaches put in.”

Things were looking good for a medal in the final, with GB leading through the first 500m and placing second through the 1,500m mark. Poland and Italy moved through, however, to take the silver and bronze behind champions Lithuania.

“We learned that we can definitely race more cleverly – there are some strategic changes to be made in regards to our effort distribution in the race and the pattern of rowing,” Collins added.

“It was a good confidence building exercise to watch that because you realise what a good job is being done. When you’re in the boat you feel everything and you can tend to tear yourself apart, so to stand on the outside and see it in action you can see that it actually looks really good against the world.”

World Rowing Cup II in Poznan sees the first appearance of several world class rowing nations, including Australia, New Zealand and China.

No members of Australia’s silver medal-winning quad have been named in the boat for this event, with Collins believing GB’s main rivals come from within Europe this season, although the new European champions have not entered.

Barras – who replaced Collins in Racice – moves into the single scull for the World Cup, with Walton, Lambert and Beaumont all returning to the quad in Poznan.

“With a bigger boat like the quad there is a lot of personnel change going on across all the nations, but I think one thing you can always rely on with this boat is that the standard is always quite high,” he said.

“Most of the event comes from Europe, so it’s been very tough [at the start of the season] but it has been good to paint a picture of what is going on.

“You see the Lithuanians are quite consistent and we’re having to see where we are compared to the crews around us with the changes going on in all the crews. It’s fiercely competitive, but we know roughly where we are and it’s quite nice to know that.”

World Rowing Cup II takes place between 16-18 June in Poznan, Poland. You can follow all of the action on the British Rowing website and @BritishRowing on Twitter. There will be live coverage of the finals on the BBC Red Button from 9.25am on Sunday, with highlights on BBC2 at 5pm.