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Coles on the mend

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All Blacks hooker Dane Coles nearing return

NZ Herald

All Blacks hooker Dane Coles’ long wait on the sidelines with his latest injury appears to be over; he has been named to start for his Wellington club Poneke tomorrow.

Dogged by several issues over the last few years, including concussion and Achilles and knee problems, Coles has been unavailable for the Hurricanes since mid-March due to a calf injury.

His comeback in the red and black hoops of his club team against Petone at the Petone Rec is another step in the right direction for a player eager to make another World Cup. In a twist, his main All Black rival Codie Taylor is set to miss the next four weeks for the Crusaders due to a broken finger.

The Hurricanes are guaranteed to stay in fourth place on the table and New Zealand’s second best team this weekend despite their bye. A graduated return to the top level via a club game probably suits the 32-year-old Coles, who has played 60 tests.

Earlier this month, Hurricanes coach John Plumtree refused to put a date on Coles’ possible return for his side.

“I’m putting absolutely no pressure on Colesy, and I don’t want him putting pressure on himself,” Plumtree said.

“Holding him back’s not easy, trust me. He’s the type of character that just wants to get going. He’s pretty frustrated and annoyed, but we’ve been through that now. It’s just a case of ‘if we see you in a couple of weeks great, if we see you in three weeks great, if we see you in a month, great’. We definitely want to see him again and we will, but we want to make sure there’s no time limit on it.

“He’s just got to make sure that when he comes back he’s feeling really good and that he can play a part for the rest of the year hopefully without re-injuring that calf muscle.”

Asafo Aumua and Ricky Riccitelli have been swapping the hooker duties in Coles’ absence.

Should the Hurricanes retain fourth position on the table, they are in line to play the Crusaders in a Super Rugby semifinal in Christchurch should both teams win their quarter-finals.

This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and is republished with permission.

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All Blacks hooker Dane Coles nearing return