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Coles expects stirring display from locks

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 30/10/2016 Angelo Risso

<span style="font-size:13px;">All Blacks hooker Dane Coles says the experience of Patrick Tuipulotu and Luke Romano will hold them in good stead for Saturday's clash with Ireland in Chicago.</span> © Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images All Blacks hooker Dane Coles says the experience of Patrick Tuipulotu and Luke Romano will hold them in good stead for Saturday's clash with Ireland in Chicago. All Blacks hooker Dane Coles expects stand-in locks Patrick Tuipulotu and Luke Romano to step into the run-on side with ease against Ireland.

Last week's bruising Bledisloe Cup win over Australia has decimated the world champions' second-row stocks, with incumbent duo Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock ruled out with injury.

Whitelock will miss much of the northern tour with an ankle sprain, while Retallick will sit out the side's Test against the Irish in Chicago with concussion.

The towering pair, who made a combined 22 lineout catches and four lineout steals in their side's flawless Rugby Championship, have been replaced in the matchday squad by Scott Barrett and Vaea Fifita.

However it is expected the 23-year-old Tuipulotu and 30-year-old Romano, who have earned a combined 36 caps, will step into the locking positions at Soldier Field.

Coles, 29, expects the pair to to slot in seamlessly.

"We're pretty lucky with Patrick and Luke, senior locks, they haven't played too much game time but they've been in the environment for a while," Coles said.

"Sam and Brodie are world-class but it's an awesome opportunity for those boys to step up."

Hooking teammate Codie Taylor, who lines up alongside Whitelock at Super Rugby level with the Crusaders, said he was peerless in his preparation.

He sets an example for his Crusaders teammates, particularly fellow second-rowers Barrett and Romano, on set-pieces and tackling.

"They're two great options to have and that's probably on the back of Sam's standards," Taylor said.

The All Blacks have adopted a relaxed approach to the beginning of their four-week northern Tour, taking in Chicago's sights and attending an NBA game since their arrival on Friday.

The side will begin their preparation week in earnest on Sunday with light gym work, followed by a more strenuous regime on Monday.

Coles said the touring squad needed to strike the right balance between relaxation and hard work, and focus on a game at a time.

"You don't want to get in that trap of having too much fun when you're a Test rugby side, so coming in a couple days early is quite good," Coles said.

"We've gone out, seen a couple things, seen the sites, but today and tomorrow is business."

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