All Blacks hooker Dane Coles has never followed the status quo throughout his storied career, and the Test veteran isn’t about to start now.
The New Zealand Rugby Union announced earlier this week that Coles is looking to “leave everything on the field this season” before retiring from professional rugby at the end of 2023.
Coles will end his 17 year professional career in New Zealand at the end of the season, and will not follow other All Blacks who have signed deals overseas.
This has been a truly momentous week for New Zealand Rugby, with a number of all-time greats confirming their decisions to embark on a new chapter overseas.
Star duo Aaron Smith and Beauden Barret has signed with Toyota Verblitz, and Brodie Retallick has also inked a deal with Kobe Steelers – his second stint with the Japanese club.
World-class loose forward Ardie Savea is also set to head overseas, along with Richie Mo’unga and Shannon Frizell.
Hurricanes coach Jason Holland said that Coles’ “old school” decision to retire in New Zealand is a reflection of “why he plays the game.”
“It probably says a lot about Colesy, and why he plays the game,” Holland told Newshub.
“There’s a bit of an old school touch that he has.
“While everybody wants to make money, it definitely isn’t a massive priority of his. Playing for the Hurricanes, enjoying his footy and playing for the All Blacks is something that Colesy loves.
“Playing for Poneke, his club in Wellington, is something that he loves doing.
“I think Colesy’s just that old-school guy who wants to enjoy his footy, be around his family and those sorts of things.
“It’s probably a question for Colesy, but I know doing the best thing for his family and his club is around how they live their life, not so much other priorities.”
There are a lot of unknowns facing the All Blacks and Super Rugby teams going into 2024.
As the international careers of many modern day greats come to a close, next year is an opportunity for other players to make their mark.
For the Hurricanes, they’ll be without two club greats.
While Coles and Savea will seemingly leave behind a gaping hole in the Hurricanes’ side, Holland is confident that the players coming through can step up to the plate.
“They’re two of the most influential leaders in New Zealand Rugby in the last three or four years,” he added.
“It’s obviously a big hole – hopefully Ardie will be back after his sabbatical, but for ’24, it’s definitely a big hole.
“There’s been a big emphasis from those two guys in the growth of our leaders. We’ve got guys who are three or four-year Super players now who have learned a hell of a lot, and will fill those spaces.
“We’ve still got guys who are All Blacks, or really experienced players in our group.
“It’s definitely a big hole, (but) with the influence they’ve had on people over the last couple of years, they’ve got a real mindset to help people grow in that space.
“Just like in everyday life, some people leave and some people step up.
“Those two boys will continue to make sure that there’s people who are still here in ’24 that know how Dane Coles led, and bring that to the party when they’re not here.”
The first round of the new Super Rugby Pacific campaign is set to get underway in a couple of weeks, with the champion Crusaders hosting the Chiefs in Christchurch.
As for Coles’ Hurricanes, they’ll travel across the ditch for a blockbuster against the Queensland Reds in Townsville.
Hansen says Folau ‘can’t be punished’ forever for anti-gay comments
Former Warriors coach speaks out after being left paralysed by beach accident
Indy 500: Newgarden beats Ericsson to win after three red flags