Saturday 17 March 2018

Coles promising 'crazy emotion' and improved All Black lineout

Coles: Hoping to make amends. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images
Coles: Hoping to make amends. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

It is measure of Dane Coles' standing in the game that the All Blacks hooker is beating himself up over a return of three lost lineouts in 12 in Chicago, but such are the standards he sets.

The 29-year-old hooker is the best in the business around the park, but holds himself accountable out of touch as well and he's keen to right the wrongs of Soldier Field when the absence of twin-towers Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock helped undermine the usually rock-solid New Zealand lineout.

Their shakiness at the set-piece allowed Ireland access into the game and with the first-choice second-rows back, the world champions are confident of fixing their issues.

"I probably let myself down with the throws the last time," he said. "I just have to make sure I trust my process. I probably overcooked it a bit in the first Test but I have been throwing pretty good this year so one bad lineout doesn't make me a bad thrower.

"I have to believe in my ability. I have to make sure I improve for Saturday because a few of those darts they got a lot of confidence from and they scored a few points."

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"Having Sammy and Brodie is huge. They have a lot of experience, pretty world-class locks. Yeah, it's good for our lineout but I've got to do my job for them and make sure I know my role. Ireland have got a lot of height and with someone like Rory Best there as well they've got a world-class hooker so they win a lot of their ball.

"Defensively, they've got guys like (Jamie) Heaslip and they stay alive and are quite good on the ground.

"There's a bit more extra planning probably gone into the lineout this week. In defence and attack they are great at the set-piece, especially getting up at the lineout. They put a lot of pressure on our jumpers and we lost a lot of ball. We've got to give them a lot of credit for that."

The word revenge hasn't featured in the public utterances at the side's Castleknock base this week, but the unspoken desire to put Chicago to rights is not far below the surface.

"There's a crazy bit of emotion, a bit of edge," Coles said. "We shouldn't have to take a loss to get that but unfortunately we have and we've got to make sure we go out and play better footy.

"During the week, there's a lot of responsibility on the leaders to step up and it was probably the leaders last time who let the side down.

"We have to make sure the guys follow us. We can't just have that edge during the week and not turn up on Saturday.

"I'm not getting too excited though. If I do that I might be sitting on the sideline for a couple of minutes."

Irish Independent

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