Rugby: Super Rugby title bittersweet for Dane Coles

By Kris Shannon

Hurricanes players jubilant after their victory over the Lions in the 2016 Investec Super Rugby final at Westpac Stadium. Photo / Mark Mitchell.
Hurricanes players jubilant after their victory over the Lions in the 2016 Investec Super Rugby final at Westpac Stadium. Photo / Mark Mitchell.

The Hurricanes' choice of celebratory soundtrack, booming through the Westpac Stadium walls as their opponents fronted media, was almost cruel.

While the Lions were attempting to explain where it all went wrong, the song emanating from the victorious dressing room was clear - Nick Jonas' Jealous.

The merits of that particular musician can be debated but one thing was certain: the Lions, after last night being out-classed in the Super Rugby final, will be rather familiar with the eponymous feeling.

Their conquerers, though, can empathise. After all, the Hurricanes were well acquainted with jealousy this time last year, when the Highlanders spoilt the party in the same building, leaving the men from the capital as the only Kiwi team yet to reach Super Rugby's promised land.

But after rebounding from that setback in spectacular fashion, after vanquishing 20 years of disappointment for the franchise, envy was the last emotion on the Hurricanes' minds late last night.

Joy was perhaps the most prevalent, at least if reserve halfback Jamison Gibson-Park's soundtrack offered any indication.

"Probably the best music committee we've had," said captain Dane Coles as the team launched into a full-blooded chorus of Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline.

"You've got to have good music throughout the year. It's been top notch."

The same can be said for the efforts on the field. If the music was eclectic, the Hurricanes' performances were anything but, rattling off a franchise-record eight straight wins to close the season and secure the title.

It's a title that proved elusive for so many Hurricanes of past vintage. Just last year, Conrad Smith and Ma'a Nonu departed Wellington with more than 100 caps each and without a trophy between them.

Jonah Lomu and Jerry Collins were equally unlucky, and the spectre of both men loomed over last night's occasion. This victory, according to Coles, was as much for those who had come before as it was for the current crop.

"You just look back - guys like Conrad, Norm Hewitt - all those ex-Hurricanes boys who have tried to win the trophy," Coles said.

"For me, that was a massive motivation.

"Jeremy Thrush, Christian Cullen, there were so many Hurricanes legends who couldn't get that thing. And just to bring it to the franchise, for the ex-players and for the region, I'm just so proud to be a Hurricane right now.

"It's bigger than us - it's bigger than this team. People deserved it who didn't get it, but to say the Hurricanes finally won a championship is just outstanding."

- NZ Herald

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