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Coles keeping emotions in check ahead World Cup swansong

Coles keeping emotions in check ahead World Cup swansong

All BlacksAugust 22, 2023

Knowing he's heading into his last outings on the international stage, All Blacks hooker Dane Coles has been keen not to be swayed by the emotions that evokes while preparing for the Rugby World Cup in France.

A big help in that process was knowing they face another contest with their old rivals South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday morning (NZT).

Coles said having the Springboks as their last preparation before the World Cup was good, creating some intensity during their week of preparation.

"The World Cup is not going anywhere. It just puts a real clear focus for us to worry about playing the Boks at Twickenham, and then we can worry about the World Cup after that.

"It gives us a good standard and they're coming off a good win against Wales and we're looking forward to it."

Coles will go head-to-head with rival Malcolm Marx if he plays on Saturday. Watching South Africa's game with Wales at the weekend, Coles was impressed with the Boks set-piece. Marx had also featured with the ball in hand, so if named, he was looking forward to his first game against them in three or four years.

The All Blacks would go into the game with their usual approach and avoid the fear of injury or suspension, taking a World Cup experience away from them.

Coles repeated assistant coach Jason Ryan's earlier comments that it was when trying to avoid injuries that they were most likely to happen.

80 in 80 | Throwing it back to our 2018 comeback win against @springboks ahead of our Twickenham clash this weekend 💪

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— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) August 21, 2023

"You can control your effort that you are putting in during the week and things will take care of themselves. The World Cup is a very unique competition but being a part of it there is a lot of pressure and edge that goes into it and that's enough that you don't have to be worrying about your body. You just do everything you can to get on the pitch and put the effort in and all the rehab and hard work, and you'll be fine."

Coles said he was 'gob-smacked' to learn 2015 All Blacks World Cup coach Steve Hansen was working with the Wallabies ahead of the tournament in France.

"I know he's quite tight with Eddie [Jones-Australia's coach]. They're fairly good mates. He's a bit of an icon in the All Blacks set-up. I'm speechless and a bit disappointed, but we can't do much about that. He's a great man. But he's not in the environment at the moment, so we'll have to leave it. I suppose he can help Eddie, but hopefully, he doesn't tell Eddie all our secrets.

"I think he'll be respectful, that's the main thing. If he's respectful which I think he will be to the All Blacks there'll be no problems. That's just me trying to process what you [the media] have just said."

Coles said playing at Twickenham would be special for the last time in his career. The memories of the 2015 World Cup triumph were warm, and playing South Africa would add to the occasion.

Ex-pat New Zealanders always turned out to watch them there, and Coles said he enjoyed the atmosphere and the unique history of the ground.

All Blacks v South Africa (Rugby World Cup warm-up): Saturday 26 August, 6.30am NZT, Twickenham, London.

All Blacks In Their Own Words | Relive the emotion and drama of the 2022 season through the eyes of the players and coaches.

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