‘History means nothing’
Skipper Coles focused on the future and not past results against Lions
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.”