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Coles recalls Hames' rise from obscurity

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 14/09/2017 Angelo Risso

Dane Coles of All Blacks. © Phil Walter/Getty Images Dane Coles of All Blacks. Dane Coles can still remember the day when, at a 2013 All Blacks training camp in the Bay of Plenty, he met Kane Hames.

Short of men, the world champions had called in the little-known Hames to make up the numbers at scrum and lineout time.

He was so good, he turned a few heads.

A Super Rugby deal followed with the Highlanders, before a switch to the Chiefs in 2016 and a Test debut off the bench later that year.

On Saturday, the prop will complete his stunning ascent when he makes his starting Test debut in the All Blacks' clash with South Africa.

"I remember being pretty impressed with the way he scrummaged against us - we were like, wow," incumbent hooker Coles said.

"The next thing, he had a Super contract, and he's gone on like that, very impressive - a good work ethic, feet firmly grounded."

Kane Hames of the All Blacks. © Mark Nolan/Getty Images Kane Hames of the All Blacks. Hames told reporters on Thursday that, contrary to popular opinion, entering the All Blacks fold wasn't an especially intimidating experience.

The breadth of support given to players was immense, he said, and made focusing on the job at hand a straightforward process.

Nevertheless, Coles admitted he will need to take on a front-row leadership role against the Springboks in Albany, with Hames, Nepo Laulala and reserve Ofa Tu'ungafasi having just 15 Test caps between them.

He and 64-Test veteran Wyatt Crockett will need to lead the charge against a physical Boks outfit, who will deploy Malcolm Marx at hooker.

Pinching possession from South Africa's set piece would be crucial.

"Kane's been here before and now given the starting spot, and I think it's really exciting," Coles said.

"It's just about helping the boys out, making sure they've got all the plays."

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