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Coles back and ready for Highlanders challenge

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Lynn McConnell     26 May 2016     Getty Images

Returning from concussion, captain Dane Coles said they had studied their efforts over the last month. The Highlanders were probably the form team of the moment.

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"Some of the teams they have beaten in the last month have been pretty impressive so, like always, it's going to be a massive game for us and we're looking forward to it," he said.

What had made them so impressive was their taking of opportunities.

"When they're in their killer zone some of the tries they have got off their set piece have been pretty special. We've just got to prepare the best way we can and obviously not give them too much space, that's easy we've just go to action on Friday.

"Elliott Dixon is going very well and is a contender for the All Blacks and Ash Dixon is going well. We're very familiar with those boys and it is going to be a good battle for the forward packs," he said.

The Hurricanes had their own contenders for All Blacks selection. Coles felt props Reggie Goodes and Jeffery Toomaga-Allen hadn't been getting talked up but they had been playing some of the best rugby of their careers.

"It's good to see, I've played a lot of rugby beside those guys and it is good to see them get to a level where they can give themselves some contention for higher honours," he said.
While the five players who missed the Reds game due to a suspension, Victor Vito, Ardie and Julian Savea, Cory Jane and Chris Eves would be returning, it had been good the way their replacements performed in their absence to get the win.

"It's a good headache for Boydy for those boys to be given the chance again and I'm sure they'll want to go out and perform for themselves and for the team

Coles said he was happy to have followed the concussion procedure and was feeling ready to play again.

He had felt a little 'funny' a couple of days after his head knock but had stuck to the protocols and was ready to go.

There was definitely more care being taken by players in head knocks and they had their own understanding as a result of the issues James Broadhurst was still having, he said.

"The protocols are in there for a reason so it is good that we have to follow them and if you pass them you are back on the field," he said.

The return was graduated with no exercise on the first few days then a day with a 20-minute cycle, then the next day there was training, and the following day was weights and the final test was a contact session.

"Every day just gets better and better," he said.