As recently as last year, Springbok Bismarck du Plessis was widely considered the best hooker in the world.
Du Plessis showed at Ellis Park yesterday against the All Blacks that he is by no means a spent force, but it's clear Dane Coles has overtaken him and now must be judged the best by some margin.
Not many hookers could have made the run Coles did in the second half to score the try the All Blacks desperately needed. The effort was timely, coming three minutes after midfielder Jesse Kriel's similarly angled run netted a five-pointer.
But Coles, who also impressed with the accuracy of his tackling, made it look easy as he ran on to Malakai Fekitoa's pass between two defenders and then skinned fullback Willie le Roux with the timing of a midfielder and pace of an outside back.
"Mala held the defender and the guy shot up and I ran the hole and called for it," Coles said. "Mala - I didn't think he was going to give it, but he managed to. The fullback was probably chasing to go wide and I managed to gas it and go around him."
Coles' efforts at Ellis Park were all the more remarkable given it was his first test of the year.
After missing the Manu Samoa game due to Hurricanes commitments, and not being required against the Pumas in Christchurch, his lack of game time didn't seem to affect him one jot, despite the frantic nature of the match at high altitude.
In reflecting on the test, the 28-year-old felt the All Blacks rushed things in the first half.
"I think we were a bit frantic," Coles said. "We tried to run everything and they came out humming. Their attack was awesome. We probably didn't match them physically, we got stretched a few times out wide."
And, after doing most of the hard work during his 62 minutes on the field, he watched as Richie McCaw scored the decisive try from a lineout move in which the skipper took the ball uncontested at the front and drove over.
"We've worked pretty hard during the week to get that right because there's a few things going on. We got the timing right and Skip got over and scored so my hat goes off to Codie [Taylor]. He put the ball on the money."
McCaw said of the surprise move: "We actually had a debate about whether it would be the No9 or myself who would take that slot and I had to pull rank and take it myself. I'm pretty happy it worked, to be honest."