Rugby: Don't expect any complacency from Dane Coles

By Campbell Burnes

Dane Coles is, understandably, loving his footy at the moment, but there will be no resting on his laurels as the All Blacks wind up their successful Rugby Championship campaign on the weekend in Durban.

The 29-year-old got through a full 80 minutes in Buenos Aires, scored a try, made 10 tackles, two offloads and two breaks. Just another solid night at the office for the world's best hooker.

But there will be no complacency at Kings Park. Aside from the drive for a new world record tier one winning streak, Coles will be facing combative Springboks captain Adriaan Strauss, who delivered a man of the match display for his country in the dour 18-10 win over the Wallabies in Pretoria.

The All Blacks are enjoying the fact they are in Durban, where they have not played since falling 31-19 to the Boks in 2009, a time where the Springboks were dominant and defeated them three times in the one season on the way to the Tri Nations. Kieran Read (off the bench), Jerome Kaino and Owen Franks played in that match, and will not have forgotten.

"I've been to Joburg a number of times, even at Super level. It's refreshing going to a new venue. I think the All Blacks lost last time here too. That's awesome and a good challenge for us. It's good to be in Durban and experience a new venue with the All Blacks," says Coles.

Other than recovering from more taxing travel and sorting out their discipline, the All Blacks are always up for new challenges in different places. They will surely get one from a physical Boks outfit who laboured to victory of the Wallabies, but presented a staunch defence, accurate kicking game and had an effective fetcher in Francois Louw.

But, of course, in the back of their minds is the fact that a win here, while sweeping the Rugby Championship, already secured, will take them to 17 consecutive wins, one short of a new world record.

"Obviously the All Blacks jersey is a massive motivation, but those little things keep you motivated, to be part of a team that writes a new chapter in the All Blacks legacy is special," Coles says, before pausing to reflect on an extraordinary 2016 season for him and his two teams.

"Rugby's going well at the moment. I'm living the dream. People thought we might be a little bit vulnerable losing all that experience. But the boys are playing some pretty good footy. You can't ask for anything more.

"Even if I'm honest, I look back and I didn't think we'd go as well as we could. But Steve (Hansen) was adamant that, at the start of the year, he called it re-establishing ourselves as a group... the leaders want to leave their own mark. We've been doing it so far."

There was only one bum note for Coles, and that was his output in the Pumas test in Hamilton four weeks ago. He was not happy with that, and found himself subbed early, but has hit back with two fine displays against the Boks in Wellington and the Pumas in Buenos Aires.

"I don't want to have a kick up the arse to play well. I set my standards high, so it's about backing up those last two performances."

It sounds like there will be no off point attitudes in this All Blacks group this week. Apart from anything else, they are playing South Africa in the Republic. What more needs to be said?

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