Coles ready to start 100th Hurricanes game

Jul 25, 2017 - 7:52 PM From near-retirement to starting a Super Rugby semi-final - the Dane Coles recovery story takes another notable step in Johannesburg this weekend.

Coles is set to captain the Hurricanes in a starting role against the Lions in Johannesburg on Sunday morning (NZT), having seemingly put four months on the sideline behind him.

Adding to the narrative, it will be Coles' 100th game for the defending champions.

The All Blacks hooker admitted this month he had considered the prospect of retirement while suffering from concussion symptoms.

He shone off the bench in last week's 35-16 quarter-final defeat of the Brumbies, creating a try in typically dynamic style.

It was enough to convince Hurricanes assistant coach John Plumtree the 30-year-old is ready to start in the repeat of last year's final.

"There's a good chance you'll see him start. He's got that old spark back - he's pretty motivated obviously," Plumtree said.

Meanwhile, Plumtree indicated speedy centre Vince Aso is poised to return after missing two games with a groin injury.

It will reunite Aso with rookie All Blacks second five-eighth Ngani Laumape, with the pair having tallied a competition-leading 14 tries each.

Plumtree praised the impact of Jordie Barrett for two accomplished games at centre but suggested the versatile 20-year-old will return to fullback.

That will probably push Nehe Milner-Skudder onto the right wing in place of the in-form Wes Goosen.

"We'll be looking after Vince this week, to make sure he gets through the week well and he's good to go," Plumtree said,

"Jordie did a great job filling in at 13. But obviously he's played a Test match at fullback and that's probably his favourite position.

"His long-kicking game in Johannesburg's going to be useful to us and his ability to diffuse that high-kicking game that we'd expect from (Elton) Jantjies and Ross Cronje."

Plumtree said his players had settled well as they adjust to altitude and the challenge posed by the competition's top-qualifiers.

Source: AAP

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