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All Black Coles taking nothing for granted

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 6/06/2016 Robert Lowe
The 27-year-old returns to the team after the birth of his first child. © Getty Images The 27-year-old returns to the team after the birth of his first child.

Hooker Dane Coles might have made the All Blacks No.2 jersey his own, but he's sticking with his approach of taking nothing for granted.

The All Blacks' first outing since they lifted the Rugby World Cup for the third time last year comes in Auckland on Saturday night with the start of their three-Test series against Wales.

For Coles, the personal goal for the coming international season is simple.

"I just want to play in this All Black team as long as can," he said.

To do that, he couldn't afford to rest on what he had achieved in his previous 36 Test appearances.

"Just because I've gone all right in the past doesn't mean I'm guaranteed the jersey," he said.

"I like coming to camp and earning respect again, and showing to everybody that I deserve to be here."

All Black Dane Coles in action against England. © Scott Taylor/Rex Features All Black Dane Coles in action against England.

The 29-year-old Coles, whose ability to do his tasks in the tight is augmented by a remarkable turn of speed in the open, said his attitude had been no different in his eight Super Rugby seasons with the Hurricanes.

"I've always had that mindset, even when I've played Super," he said.

"If I think I should be there just because I've played X number of the games, then I will be out the door."

Coles was made Hurricanes skipper before the start of this season, succeeding All Blacks teammate Conrad Smith, who headed to French club Pau after the 2015 World Cup.

He's relishing the responsibility, even if it puts extra pressure on him to front up.

"If the captain is not performing, it's not a very good look," he said.

Coles also believed the captaincy had come at a good stage of his career.

"A couple of years ago, it might have gone over my head," he said.

"It's been a good step up for me this year and taken me out of my comfort zone to perform, and most weeks I think like I'm doing that."

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