Dane Coles earns an All Blacks spot
CHIEF RUGBY WRITER
Dane Coles' perseverance has paid off with his selection in the All Blacks end of year tour squad.
The Poneke hooker is one of two new caps in coach Steve Hansen's 32-man tour party, the other being Waikato halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow.
The other Wellington players selected are Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea, Hosea Gear, Victor Vito, and Cory Jane.
Coles, who was Wellington's most promising player in 2007, is one of seven contracted to the union to be named in the squad to play tests against Scotland, Italy, Wales and England.
A national age grade representative at under-19 and under-21 level, the Paraparumu-born player burst onto the scene with an eye-catching debut for the Wellington Lions in 2007, scoring two tries off the bench.
He was called up to the Hurricanes two years later, but had to serve a long apprenticeship behind All Blacks test hooker Andrew Hore over the next three seasons.
Hore's departure at the end of last year to the Highlanders gave Coles his chance and with extended game time the 25-year-old has forced his way into Hansen's squad.
His form for the Hurricanes displayed a dynamic style that separatef him from other front row rivals and he continued his strong form through Wellington's NPC campaign.
Coles presumably headed off Chiefs and Hawke's Bay hooker Hika Elliot as the third No. 2 in the tour party along with Hore and Keven Mealamu.
Among the other talking points is another Wellingtonian, albeit displaced to Auckland, in Piri Weepu who has been retained ahead of steady Canterbury halfback Andy Ellis.
Kerr-Barlow represents an investment in the future and, like Coles, a fast-paced style, while Weepu provides a contrasting style and experienced back to current test incumbent Aaron Smith.
Otago loose forward Adam Thomson remains in the side despite indications he will head overseas at the end of the year, while veteran Auckland lock Ali Williams returns from injury as the fourth lock.
ALL BLACKS TOUR SQUAD
Forwards: Keven Mealamu, Andrew Hore, Dane Coles, Tony Woodcock, Owen Franks, Ben Franks, Charlie Faumuina, Wyatt Crockett, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick Luke Romano, Ali Williams, Richie McCaw (c), Sam Cane, Kieran Read, Liam Messam, Victor Vito, Adam Thomson.
Backs: Aaron Smith, Piri Weepu, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Dan Carter, Aaron Cruden, Beauden Barrett, Ma'a Nonu, Tamati Ellison, Conrad Smith, Ben Smith, Cory Jane, Hosea Gear, Julian Savea, Israel Dagg.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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