All Blacks hooker Dane Coles' frustrating season continues.

Coles has been ruled out of the Bledisloe Cup opener on Saturday night after suffering a head knock in the All Blacks' 'Game of Three Halves' hit-out on Friday night.

Coles has had an injury-plagued 2017 season with concussion symptoms, and only returned to the All Blacks for the pre-Bledisloe hit-out.

However, the All Blacks decider to rule him out of the opener as a precaution, and have called in Ricky Riccitelli as cover.


Coles will be further assessed by the All Blacks' medical staff this week, with Codie Taylor set to start at hooker, and Nathan Harris providing cover off the bench.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said that Coles should be back next week.

"He'd be able to play if we really wanted him to, but we're taking a precautious route, so we've withdrawn him from playing.

"He's over here, he's going to train with us. Nothing too serious but enough to say that we don't want to play him. He should be available for Dunedin."

"He's a bit frustrated as he wants to play, but the doc doesn't want him to, so we're supporting the doc."

Hansen also talked up the talents of Riccitelli.

"He's mobile, he's an ex-prop so he's a good scrummager, and he's tidy enough in the lineout so he does his core roles pretty good."

Coles aside, the All Blacks have no other injury concerns, while Nehe Milner-Skudder and David Havili have also both been released from the squad for the week, and will re-join the team in Dunedin next week.