It's too hard to resist going all Star Wars when analysing the changing roles played by Codie Taylor and Dane Coles.

In 2015 when Taylor first came into the squad, he was the raw youngster being given the chance to learn his craft at the school of Coles, who was at the time, the world's best hooker.

Taylor was Luke Skywalker, Coles Obi-wan Kenobe. That was the way of things until 2017 when in an alarming further similarity to the movie, Coles, like Kenobe, was struck down.

Concussion and calf injuries saw him miss much of the first part of 2017 while a serious knee injury ruled him out of almost all of this season.


And with Coles out of the picture, again, eerily similar to the Star Wars story, Taylor fast-tracked the learning of his craft.

Read more: He's back: 13 things you need to know about Dane Coles

With regular game time, Taylor grew in confidence and he's been one of the most consistently impressive All Blacks since the Lions series last year.

Which means that here we are now with the old master ready to come back but not necessarily in such an obvious mentoring capacity.

If there was a bit of daylight between them at the start of 2017, then there no longer is.

There is certainly not an obvious gap between them in terms of ability and potential impact and at the moment Taylor sits as the number one until Coles has had some more time on the field having only managed bit parts in the Mitre 10 Cup so far this year.

All Blacks hookers Codie Taylor and Dane Coles. Photosport
All Blacks hookers Codie Taylor and Dane Coles. Photosport

Perhaps when he's back in the groove, Coles will reclaim his starting role but there has been a role reversal that should last for the next few weeks at least.

Taylor, once the pupil, is now playing the role of teacher. "I came into the mix in 2015
and he has always been unreal for me," Taylor says of Coles.


"I was a sponge taking as much knowledge as I could from him and Kev [Keven Mealamu] and the same goes now.

"With him being out for the amount of time he has, the role may have changed a little because we have changed the way we are trying to play a little bit in the All Blacks and he wants to learn all that.

"It is a great chance for me to give that back to him and when he gets his chance, he'll be ready to go."

While the balance of power in their relationship may have shifted in the last two years, Taylor, like the rest of the squad is relieved to see Coles come back.

He brings not only a wealth of experience and leadership skills, but also a fresh pair of legs, mental energy and a determination that few others can match.

With five tests in five weeks coming as they do at the end of a long hard season – particularly for Taylor who was heavily involved with the Crusaders and has had the bulk of the All Blacks game time at hooker – the return of Coles is perfectly timed.

"I think he is probably a little bit nervous given how long he has been out of the game," Sam Whitelock said of Coles.

"But Dane is Dane and he is going to bring a bit of edge and get out there and be excited. No doubt him and Codie will find each other somewhere on the field."