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Corey Jane on the 'ball of muscle' ready to steamroll back into the All Blacks

By Ned Lester
Asafo Aumua on the charge for Wellington. Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Former All Black winger and World Cup champion Corey Jane is speaking highly of his Huuricanes side as Super Rugby Pacific’s preseason kicks off this weekend.

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The 2023 season offers an almighty opportunity for players looking to get a taste of international rugby and feature at the World Cup in France come September. While regular All Blacks look to further their case and lock down their positions, fringe players will need to take their chances if they are to win the approval of Ian Foster and his selection committee.

One area where there is potential for change is at hooker, where the duo of Cody Taylor and Dane Coles have provided world-class form for the past decade but are both nearing the end of their careers while the younger generation have emerged as highly competitive with the old guard.

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Chiefs powerhouse Samisoni Taukei’aho looks to be the future of the All Blacks No 2 jersey, pushing the Hurricanes’ Asafo Aumua out of the squad in recent years.

Aumua’s athleticism and strength had him touted as the next big thing since high school, a hat-trick in the U-20 World Cup final followed by an outstanding NPC season with the Lions earned Aumua an All Blacks call up before he had played a single game of Super Rugby.

While Aumua’s X-factor was never questioned, his ability to execute at set piece time has been his achilles heel. However, consistent minutes in last season’s NPC showcased Aumua’s growth in that area and could see him challenge Hurricanes teammate Dane Coles for the third hooker spot in the World Cup squad.

“I don’t know what goes on with the All Blacks but man, he trains his ass off when he’s with us,” Corey Jane said of Aumua on The Platform.

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“Like I said it could be different with the All Blacks but when he’s here, you get into some tackle drills and he’s 100 percent every single time and he kind of makes everyone around him have to get to that level. Otherwise, being the ball of muscle he is, he’s going to hurt someone.

“Just that kind of stuff rubs off on everyone around him.”

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Dane Coles will suit up for his final season of rugby with the Hurricanes this year and looks to be showing no signs of easing into retirement, taking the preseason trainings by storm.

“He is so awesome, he’s been so good in this preseason, especially this month we’ve just had after Christmas. He looks like a 21-year-old, he’s flying around everyone, we have to tell him to calm down because he’s just trying to get into everything.

“He’s had some tough injuries that are frustrating but again, he’s had an outstanding career and if you look at different players throughout eternity,  that have played in sports and especially if we look at rugby, he changed the way that the hooker plays. Yes, Sean Fitzpatrick, he went out wide and (was) scoring tries but just how dynamic he (Coles) was as a hooker around the field and he changed the mould that everyone started to look for, a hooker that could do that.

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“When you look at him, he’s tough, he’s energetic, he’s old but he’s still flying around the field. He changed the game and he still loves it so it’s sad to see him retire, everyone has to do it but it’s going to be a great year for him hopefully.”

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