Zach Collaros wants to show Saskatchewan what they’re missing after trading him away.
The 31-year-old quarterback was placed on the six-game injured list by the Riders following a head shot he sustained from Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ linebacker Simoni Lawrence in Week 1. After Cody Fajardo took over the starting QB role, Collaros was traded out of the prairie province.
The Riders earned a home playoff date for the Western Semi-Final when Chris Jones was in town. Under the new regime, Jeremy O’Day general manager, Craig Dickenson head coach and Fajardo quarterback, the Riders are hosting the West Final for the first time since 2009.
O’Day re-signed Collaros in February after he passed for 2,999 yards, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 14 games while producing a 10-4 win-loss record for Saskatchewan. But after Fajardo proved he could handle the No. 1 QB job, O’Day sent Collaros to Toronto for a draft pick.
“I don’t think I’d be human if I didn’t say there was more motivation,” Collaros said.
The veteran pivot has been dealt three times in less than two seasons. Collaros was originally acquired by the Riders in January 2018, shipped to the Argos in July 2019 and routed to the Manitoba capital at the CFL trade deadline in October.
“If there’s anything I’ve learned in this league is things can change quickly,” Collaros said.
Since assuming the starting role for the Bombers, Collaros is 2-0, both wins came versus the Calgary Stampeders. The most important was a playoff victory at McMahon Stadium to set up the first West Final between Winnipeg and Saskatchewan since 1972.
“It’s a big-time rivalry,” Collaros said, however he declined to reflect on his time in Regina. “I don’t think that’s a conversation to have right now.”
Collaros and Fajardo exchanged texts at times throughout the regular season, but none since the post-season started. There is a mutual admiration between the two signal callers, but there is only one goal in mind for the first ever playoff meeting as starting quarterbacks: earn a trip to the Grey Cup.
“There’s always an emotional factor when you play against players you’ve been with. Everybody wants to win and they want to win all the time,” Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said. “I don’t know that you can escape that there will be or deny that there will be some feelings.”