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Dane Coles: 'I'm doing everything I can to get back on the field'

By Tom Vinicombe
Dane Coles. (Photo by Marty Melville/Photosport)

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All Blacks hooker Dane Coles has sought to quell fears that the 35-year-old might be facing an ‘early’ retirement after not yet featuring for the Hurricanes in this year’s Super Rugby Pacific competition.

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Coles has been a key member of the New Zealand national side since 2012, taking over as the first-choice rake ahead of the 2015 World Cup. In his 10 years with the All Blacks, Coles has amassed 80 caps despite spending ample time on the sidelines in the latter stages of his career due to various injury troubles.

After last taking the field against France in the final game of the All Blacks’ 2021 end-of-year tour, Cole has not yet accrued any minutes for the Hurricanes this season, with Asafo Aumua and James O’Reilly sharing the starting hooker duties and the likes of Jacob Devery, Bruce Kauika-Petersen, Kianu Kereru-Symes, Siua Maile and Raymond Tuputupu all getting opportunities off the pine.

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On Thursday afternoon, Coles posted on Instagram confirming that while his body has certainly taken a few blows in recent years, he fully intends to get back out on the park for the Hurricanes this season.

“Don’t usually do this, but this is the easiest way to give everyone an update without going through the media. I haven’t retired or signed with [NRL side the] Warriors yet,” Coles joked.

 

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A post shared by Dane Coles (@dane__coles)

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“My body has taken a bit of a hammering the last couple of years, and I’m doing everything I can to get back on the field and enjoy my last couple years of footy. Really miss playing for [the Hurricanes] but will be back soon.”

In 2021, Coles signed a new contract with New Zealand Rugby to keep him playing until 2023.

Over the past few years, Coles and Crusaders hooker Codie Taylor have gone head-to-head contesting the No 2 jersey for the All Blacks with few other contenders really pushing the pair. That changed last season, however. With Coles not travelling to Australia for the Rugby Championship, up-and-coming rakes Aumua and Samisoni Taukei’aho proved adept back-ups to Taylor, while Taylor himself struggled with his form throughout the test season.

Provided that Coles can get back on the park for the Hurricanes ahead of the All Blacks’ July test series with Ireland, he’ll likely be competing with Taylor, Aumua and Taukei’aho for a spot in the squad.

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In the meantime, Aumua has been named to start at hooker once again for the Hurricanes in their match-up with the Highlanders this weekend with Hawke’s Bay Kereru-Symes covering from the reserves.

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