Mealamu not ready to step aside for Coles

TOBY ROBSON IN EDINBURGH
Last updated 12:36 07/11/2012
Keven Mealamu
Photosport
KEVEN MEALAMU: "We still love what we're doing, we still love being a part of this team and are excited by the things we learn in this team," the All Blacks hooker said of himself and Andrew Hore.

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Keven Mealamu is a big fan of young teammate Dane Coles, but the veteran hooker is in no hurry to vacate his position in the All Blacks front row.

Coming off his 100th test cap against the Wallabies, Mealamu said this week he sees no reason why he can't challenge for a place at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

"I definitely think it's a possibility," the 33-year-old said of extending his test career for another three years. "It's a matter of us being really clear on what we want to do from here. For guys that have been around a while, we are in reasonable nick, we've been able to look after ourselves quite well and the team has looked after us quite well.

"So it's a matter of knowing that's what we want to do, that it's what the guys want to do and keep putting everything into it to see if we can get there because I can't see why it's not a possibility.

"We still love what we're doing, we still love being a part of this team and are excited by the things we learn in this team."

Mealamu will turn 36 in 2015, but the biggest threat to his goal could be Coles, a 25-year-old who may start the opening test at Murrayfield on Monday.

The Wellington rookie could not have a better mentor than Mealamu, who is full of praise for his young teammate.

"He fits into the group easy. He's probably a little bit quiet at the moment because he's trying to find his feet, but he's a guy that's easy to get along with.

"Horey [Andrew Hore] and I have a job to come in and make sure he can come in and do the job we expect from him. I think he deserves to be here as well."

Mealamu smiles when asked if he sees shades of his own play in Coles' energetic and explosive game.

"Part of the game I really enjoy is being able to carry the ball well. He does that really well. He's got great vision as a rugby player as well. Having his energy here has been awesome. He can definitely add that dimension to our team."

It remains to be seen when Coles will get his chance, but it would continue a trend for Mealamu who has surprisingly played against the Scots only once since his test debut in 2002.

The two side's have met just four times over the preceding decade with Mealamu captaining the All Blacks for the first of three times during the 32-6 win at Murrayfield in 2008.

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Last time the All Blacks visited Edinburgh, their ever-green hooker was in a less positive frame of mind after being handed a four-week suspension, later halved on appeal, for head-butting England captain Lewis Moody at Twickenham.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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