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Dane Coles explains 'surprise' move to Japan and missing World Cup final

By Ned Lester
Dane Coles acknowledges fans after the All Blacks loss. Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Retirement will have to wait for Dane Coles, the 90-cap All Black has made something of a shock signing with Kubota Spears after initially revealing he would retire from rugby following the Rugby World Cup.


Coles, known for his pace at the hooker position as well as a history of some inflammatory gamesmanship, was the second oldest All Black of all time while competing for New Zealand in France.

Earlier in the year, the 36-year-old made it known he would be hanging up the boots following the World Cup, expressing no interest in taking up an overseas contract despite the promise of a healthy contribution to his retirement fund.

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The veteran told 1News he was happy to be “back with family after a big couple of months” and was pleasantly surprised by the reception the team had received upon returning to home soil.

“I thought we might be enemy number one but everyone’s actually been really positive and supportive which has been pretty cool,” he added.

“Just been at the Auckland airport and everyone’s come out to say how proud of the All Blacks and how proud they were of the effort and the World Cup, especially in the final. That was pretty cool to hear that.

“Good to see the kids, it’s been a long couple of months mate. I told them ‘one last little trip’ but cool to be in Kapiti and chill out for a little bit.”


As it turns out, it would not be the last trip Coles would take, but his family will be by his side for the Japan season.

“(Word) travel’s fast!” He laughed when questioned on the contract.

“A bit of a surprise, mate. Actually looking forward to it, it just came during the bye week in the World Cup. They needed a Hooker, obviously with Malcolm Marx going down.

“I think my wife was probably more keen than I was to be fair. It’s a bit of an adventure, we’re taking the kids so yeah, it will be cool. Just a little six months, just to spend some time with the family and take them over there. I’m really looking forward to it.”


Coles was left on the sidelines during the All Blacks’ Rugby World Cup final effort, missing out on the matchday 23 to regular starter Codie Taylor and young gun Samisoni Taukei’aho – the latter of which shared an emotional message of gratitude for Coles during the final week, acknowledging his growth under the mentorship of the man he affectionately refers to as “grandad”.


Coles remained a true professional in the face of sitting out the final.

“It was easy mate, I kind of knew it was coming, just with the way Soni (Taukei’aho) and Codie (Taylor) were going. So, it was an easy week for me.

“It’s always about the team, I just put my emotions aside and just try to help prep the boys.

“I’ve learnt in this game mate, there’s no guarantees and whoever gets the job deserves it. So, there was no resentment, Foz (Ian Foster), he’s got enough on his plate to worry about an old hooker dropping his lip, so that was sweet as. I supported him and got behind the boys. Just doing my job, no guarantees around the rugby game. ”

The 2016 Super Rugby champion concludes his New Zealand career at peace with his achievements.

“Even not playing in the World Cup (final), I still went out on my own terms, I was still part of the squad.

“Even though I didn’t play in the final, I was still kind of part of it on that field. It’s all good, it’s just the way things are.

“Whatever happens in Japan, that won’t determine my rugby career. It’s just more of an adventure and trying to help my old coach Dan Cron, because they were looking for a hooker with a bit of experience. So that’s all it is, just a bit of fun.”

Coles signed off the interview with a message to fans.

“I gave it everything I’ve got and it’s cool I’ve been acknowledged through social media and a lot of texts and messages. It’s been pretty cool to reflect and inspire the next generation. You know what it’s like, a chapter closes and another one opens.

“Thanks, New Zealand, it’s been a pleasure putting on the black jersey and I’m happy to leave and see what’s next.”


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Utiku Old Boy 252 days ago

Coles played his position with speed, skills of a back, accuracy and with plenty of abrasiveness. He was a point of difference and brought a lot of pride and passion to whatever team he played in and especially the ABs. Always humble about his own game, he also spoke his mind. His family is a credit to both him and his wife and I hope they fully enjoy their time in Japan together.

Tristan 252 days ago

A wonderful rugby player and a great All Black. 100% competitive on the field but at the final whistle would genuinely shake hands and have a beer with the guy he spent 80 mins trying to bury. It's been a pleasure watching him play and he will be missed. Right up there with the very best of All Black hookers.

by George! 252 days ago

Thanks Colesy, you definitely did your job and handed that jersey over having added to its legacy. Your best years are before you.

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