Coles set for fourth ABs test
Having gained his third All Blacks cap off the bench against Wales on Sunday morning, Kapiti's Dane Coles is likely to play a part in the final match of the European Tour against England.
The All Blacks defeated Wales 33-10 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, making it three from three for New Zealand on their European tour.
Hurricanes hooker Coles will be in the squad to play England at Twickenham on Sunday morning, after starting hooker Andrew Hore was cited for a ruthless swinging arm on Welsh lock Bradley Davies: set to be given a lengthy ban. Davies was knocked out by the blow and spent the night in hospital.
With Hore out, Coles' place in the England test will come down to the return to fitness of Keven Mealamu, who missed the Welsh test with a calf strain.
Should Mealamu be deemed fit Coles will start on the bench, although Coles could earn his first test start, with Hika Elliot called in as cover for the bench should Mealamu not recover.
Coach Steve Hansen believes Coles can excel if called up against England.
"He's a young man who has come on the tour and done everything he's needed to do. He's been great off the park, he's fitted in and he's wanted to learn," Hansen said
"When he's been on the park he's performed well and gotten better and better with a lot of his work. It's a little like losing [Daniel Carter] and having to put Aaron [Cruden] in. I know Aaron's had more games [than Coles], but the expectation is when you pull the jersey on you have to play.
"We don't need him to be Andrew Hore, or Keven Mealamu, we just need him to be him and everyone around him has to do a bit more."
In a media column, All Blacks legend Buck Shelford praised Coles.
"Should Keven Mealamu be ruled out with injury once again, I believe young Dane Coles is ready to take on a starting role at Twickenham," Shelford said.
"Coles has shown great promise and has the potential to emulate the great Sean Fitzpatrick, who after coming in as a young rookie in 1986, went on to make the jersey his own for the following 11 years."
- Kapiti Observer