Rugby: Jumping Dane happy to be back

By Daniel Richardson

On top of jumping off his couch a few times while watching the Hurricanes, Dane Coles was made to work hard during his recent six-week spell on the sidelines. Photo / Getty Images.
On top of jumping off his couch a few times while watching the Hurricanes, Dane Coles was made to work hard during his recent six-week spell on the sidelines. Photo / Getty Images.

On top of jumping off his couch a few times while watching the Hurricanes, Dane Coles was made to work hard during his recent six-week spell on the sidelines.

The Hurricanes' hooker suffered a fractured eye socket at training in mid-April after colliding with Jason Eaton, and had to watch as Motu Matu'u struck a fine vein of form in Coles' No 2 jumper.

A broken forearm then put Matu'u on the shelf and third-string rake Ash Dixon has since received more game time than he ever dreamed of getting during the past month.

Coles missed the Hurricanes' trip to South Africa and admitted he wasn't a very good spectator, while the injury did have him in doubt for next month's test matches against France.

The 26-year-old made his All Black debut on last year's end of season tour and collected a handful of caps via substitute appearances.

Coles is a valuable commodity in the New Zealand rugby landscape given the advancing years of veteran All Black hookers Keven Mealamu and Andrew Hore who may not have long left in the international game.

"It's hard when you're not playing to be able to make it into the ABs so I've been parking that up and I've just been concentrating on playing for the Canes and we'll see what happens from there,'' Coles said.

As luck would have it, Coles will make his return to the field on Friday night, when the Hurricanes meet the impressive Brumbies in Canberra.

While Coles was injured he spent the first two weeks only doing light cycling but once his eye socket could stand up to a bit more punishment, he was drilled into the ground.

"When the boys were in Africa we did a lot of running, pretty much like game replacement stuff, so high intensity aerobic stuff,'' he said.

"So the first couple of weeks getting back in to it were bloody hard and I dry-retched a couple of times and stuff like that. So I think I'm pretty fit. Probably the fittest I've ever been so hopefully that's going to help me in the game on Friday.

"It's pretty hard watching from the sidelines and jumping out of my couch, so I can't wait.''

Coles spent time in the All Blacks' wider training group camp earlier this week but said he wasn't given any inside oil by coach Steve Hansen about his selection prospects for the three-test series against France.

Coles is one of four changes to the Hurricanes side to meet the Brumbies with centre Conrad Smith returning, moving Reynold Lee-Lo to second-five in place of Tim Bateman, while James Broadhurst earns a rare start in the second-row and Brad Shields will pull on the No 6 jumper.

Broadhurst's elevation comes at the expense of veteran lock Jason Eaton who has been banished from the playing 22 for the must-win clash, while Shields' inclusion moves Faifili Levave to the bench.

Openside Jack Lam suffered a minor knee injury at training on Monday but is still expected to play, although Karl Lowe will travel with the team as cover.

Hurricanes team to play the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday, kick-off 9.40pm NZT is: Andre Taylor, Alapati Leiua, Conrad Smith (c), Reynold Lee-Lo, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Victor Vito, Jack Lam, Brad Shields, James Broadhurst, Jeremy Thrush, Ben May, Dane Coles, Ben Franks. Reserves: Ash Dixon, Reggie Goodes, Mark Reddish, Faifili Levave, Chris Smylie, Tusi Pisi, James Marshall.

- APNZ

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