Dane Coles at All Blacks training. Photos / Photosport
By Sam Smith for RugbyPass
All Blacks and Hurricanes whore Dane Coles has given a big clue that 2021 may be his final year in professional rugby in New Zealand.
Coles has dropped his contract with New Zealand Rugby at the end of this year, but the 34-year-old suggests this could be his last hurray when speaking with RNZ ahead of Aotearoa’s upcoming Super Rugby season.
“The last year I came with Canes. I haven’t completely ruled out staying, but I have to appreciate it this year,” he said.
“It’s always a special time to be back with the players. I’ll try not to think about it [last season with the Hurricanes], I will only try and contribute to the group and I still have the same desire to appear and help the team. “
RNZ reports that Coles plans to retire from rugby at the end of 2021, with last year’s unusual season forcing him to examine his options.
While he hasn’t fully committed to hanging up his boots by year’s end, Coles noted that winning the Aotearoa Super Rugby crown with the Hurricanes “will be the last delivery”.
“That would mean a lot more.
“We are working hard to try and achieve that.”
If Coles withdraws from this year’s game, the All Blacks will face the prospect of heading into the 2023 World Cup in France without one of their most experienced players.
With 74 tests, Coles has been a vital part of the All Blacks squad since his international debut in 2012.
He started in New Zealand’s 2015 World Cup final win over Australia, ahead of Keven Mealamu, and regained his place in last year’s All Blacks starting lineup after trailing behind Codie Taylor in the pecking order at the 2019 World Cup.
Taylor stands as an obvious candidate to fill Coles’ shoes if the latter asks for time in his career, while Asafo Aumua continues to develop as a long-term prospect for the All Blacks and the Hurricanes.
Outside of the two, the only other prostitutes in New Zealand with an All Blacks experience are Liam Coltman and Nathan Harris, none of whom have caught the eye these days, whether it’s due to lack of appearances or injuries.
Experienced rake Ash Dixon stands out at Super Rugby and Miter 10 Cup level in 2020, but, at 32 years old, his trial debut may surpass him.
The likes of Kurt Eklund and Andrew Makalio have also been impressed, as reflected in their picks in last year’s North and South Island squads, but the All Blacks remain without an obvious third-choice prostitute to fill a potential void Coles will soon be leaving.
Whether Coles can be persuaded to stay afloat until the next World Cup remains to be seen, but the veteran rower said playing in the tournament in two years is still possible.
“Don’t ever say no,” he told RNZ. “Especially with Roger [Tuivasa-Sheck] come to rugby, it would be awesome to play with him. I don’t rule anything out, I’m likely to keep playing as long as I can until the coach says that’s enough. “
For now, Coles remains intent on helping the Hurricanes to their first title since 2016, with the Wellington franchise kicking off Aotearoa’s Super Rugby campaign against the Blues at Sky Stadium on 27 February.
“I still love playing for New Zealand and I’m still excited about it. I’m still driven to achieve it and it all started with playing for the Hurricanes.”