In the latest news on injured All Blacks hooker Dane Coles, he has honestly assessed that he is still yet to recover to ‘All Blacks fitness’ levels. This is after he tore the ACL in his knee, that required surgery in late 2017.
The Test hooker is yet to earn his place with the Hurricanes, let alone be fit for the June International Test window. This will not please fans of the Wellington Hurricanes – but it might please those of the Wellington Lions team.
Coles will continue to focus on a recovery program that will build towards the Mitre 10 Cup; rather than the France Test series. “It’s getting there. It’s taken a bit of time but I’m just taking it week by week. She’s a long job the ACL.”
His recovery is key for the player, and the hopes he still has of being involved in the All Blacks assault on the 2019 Rugby World Cup – so a full schedule with the Lions will help towards that.
Dane Coles still to recover to ‘All Blacks fitness’ levels
Coles was reported in the New Zealand Herald to have taken the long time during his recovery to consider his future. That was both as a rugby player – specifically as a leader within the Hurricanes – and what he would do post-rugby.
The former is both while he was training and in his contact with current squad members. Brad Shields is a close friend, and he told Fairfax Media “”Even though he’s not playing he’s a good person to have around the squad.
“He [Dane Coles] can see what’s going on, he’s experienced and, look, I’m grateful enough to lead this team in the weekend but there’s a bunch of guys that are doing a great job in amongst the team that’s really helping me out and he’s among them.”
Coles can relate to players, and management will also have encouraged him to be a positive conduit between players and coaches. The skipper during the successful 2016 season can offer plenty. It was reported that Coles has organised team functions, earning his keep at numerous promotional events and helping guide the hooking crew.
And even if he had wanted to return to Super Rugby, he is aware that the longterm goals of the All Blacks supersede his own. They, and many World Rugby fans would love to see Coles running out during June but, full recovery is key.
So if Coles can offer his mana to the ‘Canes and to the Wellington Lions side, then that is of benefit.
Wellington Lions to benefit from Dane Coles influence
The benefits that the hooker will bring to the Lions are innumerable. Head coach Chris Gibbes will certainly know that a fully fit Dane Coles will be an asset for the Mitre 10 Cup premiership squad.
It is not often that a 49 Test cap player runs out for his Province. Coles has not worn the black and yellow of the Lions since 2013. His concentration on International rugby see’s he and the majority of All Blacks unavailable. An outcome of representation, the 2018 season will be a fantastic benefit.
Asafo Aumua was the sensation of the 2017 Lions domestic season. The Under 20 ‘Baby Blacks’ player used the Championship to demonstrate his skill set. And in Dane Coles’ absence with the All Blacks, it is likely that the two will ‘switch roles’. Aumua will be an integral part of the Test squad, while Coles returns to playing in the national Provincial championship (NPC) which begins on August 16.
Lions fans can look forward to Coles adding both his high-quality scrummaging ability, as much as his leadership within the group. A benefit in training, to lift the operating standards. Not quite as fleet of foot as he was when he debuted in 2007. But with Coles, Lions fans might see their side reach heights, not experienced since the days of Rodney So’oialo (currently Assistant Coach with the 2018 side).
‘Life after Rugby’ discussed by Dane Coles
In his disclosures to the Herald, Coles spoke of his awareness of the future. Playing for the Lions and the All Blacks is very fulfilling. But it is finite. And after the number of injuries; including concussion, the player is aware of the limits on his playing career.
If Dane Coles can use the Mitre 10 Cup to return to full fitness, and demonstrate his ambition to return to the All Blacks end of year tour. And after that, towards the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
“This time out has given me a bit more motivation because rugby can be taken away just like that so I’ve done a bit more financial planning to look after my family. I can’t do too much with the knee but when that comes right, hopefully I’ll do a few things with the fire service or a few courses.
“I only decided in the last year or so. Nothing really floated my boat. It’s still a long way off but it makes me excited about something after rugby which is nice.”
Coles considering joining the New Zealand Fire Service
Family, his two children and wife will play a part. But in suggesting the change in career path, Coles mentioned how former-team mate Reggie Goodes was one who is heading towards a career as a Fireman. Add in Rebecca Wood, member of the Women’s Rugby World Cup winning Black Ferns, and a member of the fire service. That same exhilaration and satisfaction from serving the community is attractive to Coles.
One that is similar to the gratification Coles would sense; if the All Blacks can secure a fourth World Cup crown. While all those ducks still need to be lined-up, for the player regaining his game-fitness is first and foremost.
To stretch out his repaired knee, to engage in contact and then full training. If all those steps lead to a successful term with the Lions, then the hooker will soon be back to ‘All Blacks fitness’ level. And enjoying the game which he excels at.