Northern Tour an exciting prospect for Dane Coles

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Coles and a group of players, Sam Cane, Sam Whitelock, Shannon Frizell and Josh Lord, left Auckland on Thursday to fly to Washington and await the arrival of the All Blacks ahead of next week's Test against the United States Eagles.


Coles, 34, missed the Fortinet Rugby Championship because of one of the calf injuries that has plagued the latter stages of his career. But he was excited to be joining a side that was establishing its identity again.


He had become an expert in recovering from calf injuries and strengthening other parts of his body. He was happy with getting through 45 minutes with Wellington when beating Canterbury in their Bunnings NPC game after training with them for a month.


"The boys made a bit of a statement with the Rugby Championship, and if we can carry on that formula, and put a bit of mana back in the jersey it will be bloody good. It is a massive tour for us to keep improving and keep getting better and make a statement," he said.


The rugby the All Blacks played in the Championship was enjoyable to watch.


"Those last two games [against South Africa] were real nail biters, and as a fan, it was pretty cool to see us put under a bit of pressure and the boys come back. In that last game, with the lead changing five times, I was getting out of the couch and throwing a few fist pumps.



"It was good, especially after the year we had last year, the way they have turned things around. There was a sense of being proud of it and I'm just stoked for the boys that they could put in performances like they did," he said.


Watching from afar allowed him to see things in different ways, possibly the result of being more relaxed, he said.


That included the lineout that had been a concern, especially against South Africa.


"It's always easy to blame the hooker, but maybe we had to be a little bit smarter in the areas we were calling.


"They've got some pretty big boys, so maybe seeing some different options, and seeing where the space is. Unfortunately, they picked off a couple, but we'll be better for it, and it's all fixable," he said.


Heading away on the northern tour, they would be stepping a little into the unknown through not having played the Northern hemisphere sides for a while.


"Once we get over there we'll see a bit of footage but I reckon it's a real excitement too, playing teams that we haven't played in a couple of years and being in different countries," he said.


"There's excitement playing teams we haven't played in a couple of years, and being in different countries, even though we're going to be a bit restricted. There are a few of us that are pretty keen, and, hopefully, we can bring a bit of energy to the group," he said.


Coles said he had been impressed with the way Samisoni Taukei'aho and Asafo Aumua had cemented their places as All Blacks, while Codie Taylor had taken his game to another level.


"It has been good for All Blacks rugby to see a couple of hookers come along and put pressure on," he said.


The hookers all enjoyed a good relationship, and he would be picking their brains when meeting up to get up to scratch.



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