Cap­tain Coles poised to re­turn for Canes

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - HAMISH BID­WELL

‘‘Men­tally he's a tough kid and he'd play to­mor­row.’’

You say semi­fi­nal, I say quar­ter­fi­nal; one of us will end up be­ing right.

Af­ter four months on the side­line, Hur­ri­canes cap­tain Dane Coles ap­pears des­tined for a re­turn to ac­tive duty.

It won’t be on Satur­day, when the team host the Cru­saders at West­pac Sta­dium, but it shouldn’t be too long af­ter that. Par­tic­u­larly with a trip to Cape Town on the cards the fol­low­ing week­end.

As it stands to­day, the Hur­ri­canes will meet the Brumbies in Can­berra in the Su­per Rugby quar­ter­fi­nals. But the form guide would sug­gest they’ll fin­ish the reg­u­lar sea­son in sixth place, and not in fifth, which would mean they would play the Storm­ers in Cape Town at New­lands.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen reck­ons the Hur­ri­canes have agreed not to play Coles un­til the semi­fi­nals, as­sum­ing they get that far. But, from this dis­tance, it would seem daft not to be taking the cap­tain to Cape Town. Coles is over the con­cus­sion symp­toms that have seen him sit out the bulk of the Su­per sea­son, with a lack of fit­ness now the only thing im­ped­ing his se­lec­tion.

‘‘I don’t think he’ll make their quar­ter­fi­nal but if they make the semi­fi­nals, I think he’ll be right from a con­di­tion­ing point of view,’’ Hansen said on Sun­day.

‘‘He had so much time off. It’s to­tally dif­fer­ent from hav­ing that time off at the end of the year be­cause you are still ac­tive. He had a whole pe­riod - three or four months - where he didn’t do any­thing so we’ve got to grad­u­ate him back into train­ing and full con­tact.

‘‘They’ve just got to be sen­si­ble about that. Men­tally he’s a tough kid and he’d play to­mor­row.’’

The All Blacks and Hur­ri­canes have ap­par­ently had a cou­ple of dis­cus­sions about how to best get Coles back on the park.

‘‘Be­tween the two op­er­a­tions there’s a good plan in place,’’ said Hansen.

It will be fas­ci­nat­ing to see how all the All Blacks from both sides scrub up in Welling­ton on Satur­day. The dreams of a 3-0 white­wash of the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions didn’t even­tu­ate and there will be the odd player who re­turns for Su­per duty with­out much spring in their step.

Oth­ers - such as the Hur­ri­canes’ trio of Jordie Bar­rett, Ngani Laumape and Vaea Fi­fita - will come back hav­ing had a taste of test rugby and, no doubt, learnt a great deal in the All Blacks en­vi­ron­ment. You imag­ine they’ll be ex­tremely en­thused to show a bit of what they’ve picked up against the Cru­saders.

The Hur­ri­canes are start­ing to get a few num­bers back in the loose for­ward and lock­ing de­part­ments, so it will be in­ter­est­ing to see how places are found for Fi­fita, Brad Shields, Ardie Savea, Cal­lum Gib­bins, Sam Lousi and Mark Ab­bott.

Who­ever’s in the Hur­ri­canes’ pack, they have a big job to do fol­low­ing the team’s pre­vi­ous 20-12 round 12 loss to the Cru­saders.

HAN­NAH PETERS/GETTY IMAGES

Hur­ri­canes cap­tain Dane Coles has been side­lined for much of the Su­per Rugby sea­son with con­cus­sion symp­toms.

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