Got to learn fast in a World Cup year - Coles

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The entire All Blacks squad has been going through their preliminary work this week before heading across the Pacific to their first game in Argentina on Sunday, July 9 (NZT).

Those squad members not involved in last weekend's DHL Super Rugby final had a camp last week, but Coles said the Crusaders and Chiefs players had come in, and he was sure they would be ready by the end of the week.

"Our first priority is that Rugby Championship and we're going into a pretty hostile environment in Mendoza so this week is very important, it sets us up for next week."

The process was about keeping things simple, he said. For the forwards, it was about nailing their scrum and lineout and working on attack and defence.

"Sometimes you can get overawed with all the lingo and the maps and that, but we've got a pretty experienced group to keep things simple and do your job and know your role."

Reflecting on the Super Rugby campaign, Coles said there was much more ball play, especially for forwards. The skill sets required had made rugby more like a league the way it was being played.

"Speaking on behalf of forwards, you are constantly working on your ball skills. It's not the old scrum and lineout anymore; you've got to evolve and almost be like a back, I suppose.

"That's the thing I've noticed this year, the ball is in play a lot longer. You've got to get the big boys up and catch the ball, so that's something as forwards we're working on."

With an emphasis on the criticism of referee Ben O'Keeffe after the Super Rugby final, Coles said he felt sorry for him because he had been in the wrong of social media abuse.

"As players, we have a responsibility. Everyone is passionate about the game, but it is important we leave it where it was and respect him.

"Abuse is not a great thing, especially through direct messages from some muppets on social media.

"I've been in those shoes, and it's not fun. Clayton [McMillan-Chiefs' coach] has reached out and supported Ben, and it is important we show respect to the refs and the game because they are doing a great job.

"Sometimes they don't get it right but it doesn't mean we can go out and do what people have done to him," he said.


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