Rugby: Coles counts himself lucky

By Daniel Richardson

Dane Coles, right. Photo / Themba Hadebe
Dane Coles, right. Photo / Themba Hadebe

Hurricanes hooker Dane Coles admits he may have been lucky to avoid a citing this week after a couple of incidents in Saturday's 19-17 loss to the Highlanders in Wellington.

The 25-year-old was penalised for leading with his shoulder in a ruck in the first half and then threw a punch at Highlanders prop Bronson Murray - which barely connected - after Murray dragged the hooker out of a breakdown in the 64th minute.

"I was a bit lucky. It was a bit of a stupid retaliation so if I do that again it might cost me. So I'll have to keep that out of my game,'' Coles said of the misdirected punch.

"I just got a bit fired up during the game, I think because it was one of those games. But it was my bad, I shouldn't have done something like that.''

That physical style of play and aggression is an asset providing it is channelled in the right direction, and Coles said the rugged nature of the Highlanders forward pack, plus the fact he was playing against a few former team-mates, including rival hooker Andrew Hore, brought it out of him.

"If I can be physical then I'll keep doing it [within the rules]. But the Highlanders, their forward pack's pretty big, and especially at the breakdown, so we knew we had to bring that physical game. So we'll play it week by week.''

As for the late charge into the ruck, Coles revealed Jamie Mackintosh let him know he was off the mark with an old-school tickle up later in the game.

"I'm not too sure about that. I just thought I cleaned out and then I got a little bit of a smack from Whopper. But it's part of the game, you get on with it.''

Coles said before the start of the Super Rugby season he was ready to make the Hurricanes No 2 jersey his own after spending a few seasons in a reserve role and he is in the middle of a two-game stretch to prove he is up to the challenge.

On Saturday he went head to head with his former master and new Highlander Hore, and on Friday will meet another All Blacks rake in Keven Mealamu when the Hurricanes play the Blues in Auckland.

Mealamu suffered a calf injury in their loss to the Stormers on the weekend, although there is a chance he will suit up this week.

"He's a bit of an idol, I suppose and a guy I look up to,'' Coles said.

"So I can't wait to get out there and play against the best hooker in the world.''

This week's game will give Coles another opportunity to log a big shift of Super Rugby, something which wasn't possible during the past few seasons as he sat behind Hore.
But with Hore out of the picture Coles has relished the chance to play big minutes and has started the Hurricanes' first four games of the season, which have yielded two wins and two losses.

"For me I just want to play consistent rugby. If I don't have a good game then I won't be starting in this competition. The more game time I get hopefully the better I get and the more consistent I will get as well.''

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- APNZ

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