Coles ad­mits to dark­est days

Kapiti Observer - - CLASSIFIED - MARK GEENTY

‘‘I had a talk to my mis­sus and said 'this might be us, I might be hang­ing up the boots'.’’

Danes Coles’ road back from con­cus­sion has taken him through dark places, strug­gling to do some of his favourite things.

The Hur­ri­canes hooker suf­fered a con­cus­sion on March 18 and has not played rugby since, though he is op­ti­mistic of play­ing in this week­end’s Su­per Rugby quar­ter­fi­nals, fly­ing to Aus­tralia with the team on Tues­day for the clash with the Brumbies.

Coles’ strug­gles with con­cus­sion were so se­vere sta­dium noise would cause him trou­ble.

‘‘Even go­ing to the sta­dium I’d strug­gle to be around the noise, peo­ple scream­ing, I’d be down for a cou­ple of days I’d be so fa­tigued from it. That was hard be­cause I couldn’t go to the game and sup­port the boys. I slowly clawed my way back and to be amongst it was pretty awe­some,’’ Coles said.

‘‘I got into a bit of a dark place. I couldn’t even do any ex­er­cise and I had con­ver­sa­tions with my part­ner about re­tire­ment. It was re­ally hard. I love play­ing footy, it’s my job and I couldn’t do it,’’ Coles said.

‘‘There were a lot of days think­ing about it, it was con­stantly on my mind and it wasn’t till I saw a sports psy­chol­o­gist I was re­ferred to, that put some struc­ture in my life and the way I was think­ing. I was quite neg­a­tive, not in a bad way, just think­ing ‘this might be it’.’’

That con­ver­sa­tion with wife Sarah was a bleak one, about half­way through his four-month lay­off when he was at his low­est and con­sid­er­ing at age 30 whether re­tire­ment from rugby was his best op­tion.

‘‘I had a talk to my mis­sus and said ‘this might be us, I might be hang­ing up the boots’ and that was about it. Noth­ing like try­ing to find a new job or any­thing, just the way I was think­ing and the state I was in.

‘‘I spoke to a few good peo­ple and they gave me some re­ally good struc­tures to help me see a pos­i­tive mind­set and turn things around.’’

Meet­ings with the psy­chol­o­gist, his for­mer team-mate James Broad­hurst who was forced into early re­tire­ment by con­cus­sion, and Chiefs mid­fielder Char­lie Ngatai all helped. Ngatai’s been through plenty of to and fro wait­ing for symp­toms to clear.

Coles re­viewed the tape and knows he suf­fered the head knock when land­ing heav­ily try­ing to avoid team-mate Jordie Bar­rett on that March night at West­pac Sta­dium. He had a week off, symp­toms showed when he started train­ing again and then he suf­fered a calf strain which drew things out fur­ther.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen wanted him to de­lay his re­turn till the semi­fi­nals, Coles said, af­ter he fi­nally made progress be­fore head­ing into camp dur­ing the Lions se­ries. With the Hur­ri­canes sat­is­fied, Coles’ Canberra re­turn was locked in with coach Chris Boyd con­firm­ing the hooker would start on the bench against the Brumbies.

Coles ex­pects to play 20-30 min­utes off the bench, and will take over the cap­taincy from TJ Per­e­nara, such is his in­flu­ence on the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons.

The man him­self thought he’d be a bun­dle of emo­tion in the com­ing days, the last of what will be 125 days out of the game.

‘‘I’m pretty ner­vous, to be hon­est. Con­fi­dent I can get through it but just be­ing out of the game for so long, there’s mixed emo­tions. Happy to be back and I can’t wait to get out there and just play footy. It’s been the hard­est four months I’ve ever been through in my rugby ca­reer.

‘‘Know­ing the way I play and my at­ti­tude, once I’m in the thick of it I’ll be just think­ing about play­ing footy. I’ve trained with the Canes boys for a cou­ple of weeks and I’ve been get­ting into them at train­ing. I’ve just built up my con­tact and get­ting that be­lief and con­fi­dence back and I’m in a good spot.’’


Dane Coles at the cap­tain’s run ahead of the third and de­cid­ing Test match against the Bri­tish and Irish Lions in Auck­land.

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