Dane Coles and Sydney are proving to be an unfortunate mix. For the second year in succession he's arrived in Australia not available for selection.

For the second year in succession All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has opened Bledisloe Cup week by saying that Coles won't feature, but would most likely have been available had the game been a World Cup final.

Last year Coles travelled with a rib injury that the medics felt would benefit from a week of extra rest.

This year he's been ruled out by incurring a head knock in the All Blacks' "Game of Three Halves" on Friday night.


And because it's a head injury, the All Blacks have opted to be ultra cautious with Coles given that he has only just returned to action having missed close to 12 weeks of Super Rugby because of ongoing concussion symptoms.

"He'd be able to play if we really wanted him to, but we're taking a precautious route, so we've withdrawn him from playing," said Hansen on arrival.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

Erring heavily on the side of caution has become the All Blacks' way when it comes to handling players who have a concussion history.

While Ben Smith, who has endured a number of head blows over the years, could have been rushed back into the side to play in the third test against the Lions, there was no appetite to do so.

It was the same in South Africa in 2014 when Brodie Retallick could have probably played at Ellis Park in the final Rugby Championship game, but the decision was made to send him home despite the fact that meant there was no specialist lock on the bench to play the Springboks.

So it is with this policy in mind that thoughts of Coles repeating history further this week should be ruled out.

Last year Nathan Harris, who had been picked to start against the Wallabies, was ruled out for the remainder of the season on the Thursday after suffering a major knee injury at training.


Codie Taylor took his place in the No2 jersey and Coles came on to the bench, despite the original intention to not use him at all.

Funnily enough, Hansen was asked when he announced the change, whether Coles had 80 minutes in him given he wasn't supposed to be playing at all.

Hansen was unequivocal that his man did, and when Taylor came off after barely a minute due to failing a concussion test, Coles had the chance to prove whether his coach was right to have such faith.

And he did just that with an incredible performance that was a major factor in seeing the Wallabies hammered 42-8.

But this year Coles is highly unlikely to be asked to pull off such heroics because his Hurricanes teammate Ricky Riccitelli has already been called up.

So even if there is a late injury to either Taylor or Harris, it will be the 22-year-old Riccitelli who steps in to the fray and not Coles.

"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," says Hansen.