CAPE TOWN - All Blacks hooker Dane Coles says he doesn’t restrict himself on the field just because he’s a front-rower - but I doubt anybody thought otherwise anyway.
At a press conference on Tuesday Coles, a dynamic hooker who often finds himself on the wing ready to show the pace and skill that make him a standout front-rower, said that he “likes to have a go” - something he’s made very clear on numerous occasions.
“I’d rather be renowned as a front-rower first, but I don’t shy away from having a go with ball-in-hand, I back myself with the ball and I like to have a go on, I don’t restrict myself just because I’m a front-rower,” Coles said.
“But centre would be nice, maybe not wing,” Coles quipped.
But he also aces his “priority” work as a hooker, and when asked for his thoughts on the Springbok scrum, Coles said they have to improve their set-piece before they get into the shoving contest with the hosts on Saturday, although they looked dominant in this department against the Boks after the first quarter in Albany.
“They have a pretty strong scrum, they gave us a bit of a touch-up, so I’m pretty sure they want to target us again. So we just need to make sure we improve and if we can adjust to how they scrum and put a plan in place but it’s easier said than done. Hopefully we can execute it on Saturday.”
The hooker position will also present a mouth-watering battle this weekend when Coles - widely regarded as the best No 2 in world rugby - goes up against Malcolm Marx - a player who also offers the excitement factor with his powerful, and smooth, ball-carrying ability and his handling skills, although he still needs to work on his technical work at the lineouts before he can be measured against his New Zealand counterpart.
And when asked what it is like being in Cape Town ahead of the big fixture, Coles said: “I think it’s going to be awesome. It’s pretty unique as well, we have a lot of support and we got a good welcome at the airport. That’s what you live for - the history between the Springboks and the All Blacks,”
“Playing here is going to be a challenge, but we’re looking forward to it. Not a lot of guys played here the last time we were here (in 2008), so it’s going to be awesome.”