New Zealand
Dane Coles plays down label of All Blacks' 'running man'
September 1, 2015

Dane Coles wants it made clear that long-range tries won't feature in his pre-game thoughts at the Rugby World Cup.

The All Blacks hooker has sprung to prominence this year for his open-field running deeds, not traditionally the domain of a Test front-rower, but the rake, perhaps fearing expulsion from the front-row club, is at pains to play down the memory of his stunning tries against South Africa and Australia.

Both, he says, were a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

"People have been giving me a bit of stick but I never plan for those kind of things, it's just the way the game evolves, I suppose," he told NZ Newswire. "That kind of stuff's just a bonus. I'm happy to run that far and have a go."

Coles' heroics against the Springboks launched a second-half fightback tp prevail 27-20 in Johannesburg, where he burst onto a short pass from Malakai Fekitoa and swerved past covering defenders in a 30-metre surge to the line. He was even more spectacular against the Wallabies at Eden Park three weeks later, sprinting home to cap a sweeping 90m team move that opened the floodgates in the Bledisloe Cup decider after a tense opening quarter.

Coles reckons his running ability comes from a rugby league upbringing in Paraparaumu, which he transferred into the 15-man game when switching codes in his mid-teens. His running shone in early seasons with Wellington Lions and the Hurricanes before he appeared to pack it away when called into the All Blacks squad in 2012. However, his rise to be the first-choice hooker ahead of Keven Mealamu has injected enough confidence to try his luck in the open field - but only once scrum and lineout duties have been attended to.

"I feel like I am expressing myself now and showing what I'm capable of," he said. "But if I'm not doing my core roles well, I won't be playing."

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