‘His­tory means noth­ing’

Skip­per Coles fo­cused on the fu­ture and not past re­sults against Li­ons

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - VATA NGOB­ENI

ALITTLE bit of his­tory and some sen­ti­ment will come in handy as mo­ti­va­tion but Hur­ri­canes cap­tain Dan Coles be­lieves his team will have to go out and play some “footie” if they are to over­come the Li­ons in their Su­per Rugby semi-fi­nal clash at El­lis Park to­mor­row.

There is the ugly piece of his­tory that the Li­ons won’t want to talk about but the Hur­ri­canes will thrive on as the New Zealan­ders have not lost to a South African fran­chise in a decade while Coles will be mak­ing his 100th ap­pear­ance for the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons.

For the Hur­ri­canes this could prove to be the per­fect in­gre­di­ents to get them­selves in their third con­sec­u­tive fi­nal but Coles is wary of the dan­ger the Li­ons will pose as he con­sid­ers them the best team in the com­pe­ti­tion.

“There is al­ways his­tory there but we haven’t talked about it all week. Ob­vi­ously the travel is a big fac­tor and we’ve been try­ing to re­cover well and get our­selves into the best shape come Satur­day. The Li­ons de­serve to have a home semi-fi­nal be­cause they’ve been the best team in the com­pe­ti­tion, in my eyes. Hope­fully, his­tory, re­peats it­self but at the end of the day it comes down to a game of footie and all those other fac­tors don’t come into play. It will be about go­ing out and play­ing some footie and both teams will be right up for it,” said Coles yes­ter­day.

Coles, though, al­most didn’t get to lead his team out to­mor­row af­ter­noon af­ter suf­fer­ing from con­cus­sion in the fourth round of the com­pe­ti­tion which saw him miss play­ing for the All Blacks in the drawn se­ries against the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Li­ons.

For­tu­nately for the New Zealan­ders, Coles is as fit as a fid­dle and rel­ish­ing the prospect of play­ing in one of his favourite sta­di­ums in the world where he has pre­vi­ously de­liv­ered some stand­out per­for­mances for the All Blacks.

“It’s been a big cou­ple of weeks and I didn’t think I would be able to get here this year but I’m very hum­bled and hon­oured that I get a chance to play a 100 games for a club that I love. It is also awe­some to be play­ing it in a semi-fi­nal against the Li­ons at such an iconic sta­dium like El­lis Park with a lot of his­tory and a great side we are play­ing against.”

Coles will make his first start af­ter re­turn­ing from in­jury in one of the two changes to the team that beat the Brumbies last week with Hur­ri­canes coach Chris Boyd pulling a rab­bit out of the hat act by re­tain­ing wing Wes Goosen ahead of All Black wing Ju­lian Savea who drops to the bench.

In the other change, the com­pe­ti­tion’s top try scorer Vince Aso re­turns from a groin in­jury to bol­ster an al­ready star-stud­ded back­line at cen­tre with Jordie Bar­rett mov­ing to the more fa­mil­iar po­si­tion of full­back and Nehe Mil­ner-Skud­der shift­ing to wing.

The Hur­ri­canes have the per­son­nel and his­tory on their side, and a cap­tain to play for but it is in Coles’ words that the out­come of to­mor­row’s en­counter will be de­cided by what tran­spires be­tween the four white lines in 80 min­utes.

“We need to start well and be a lot more ac­cu­rate, that is what we have been con­cen­trat­ing on. Dis­ci­pline is go­ing to be a huge fac­tor but I have trust in the boys they have been do­ing a good job all year. We haven’t got­ten to the semi-fi­nal by fluke and I have trust in the lads that they will make the right choices.”

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