All Blacks retain key duo

Wed, 26 Jun 2013 08:42
Large dane coles scrum Large jeremy thrush h s Large dane coles abs

Two of the newer All Blacks, hooker Dane Coles and lock Jeremy Thrush, have re-signed with New Zealand Rugby, their Hurricanes franchise and Wellington province.

Two of the newer All Blacks, hooker Dane Coles and lock Jeremy Thrush, have re-signed with New Zealand Rugby, their Hurricanes franchise and Wellington province.

Coles, who has played six Tests for the All Blacks, more than 50 games for the Hurricanes and 66 matches for Wellington, has signed for three more seasons - through to the end of 2016.

Thrush, who made his Test debut in the recent series against France and is a senior member of the Hurricanes with close to 80 caps and 65 for Wellington, has signed through to 2015.

"I am really proud of what I have achieved so far with Wellington, the Hurricanes and All Blacks," Coles said, adding: "But I am keen to build on that so I was definitely keen to re-sign for the next few years.

"I just want to work on all aspects of my game, keep working hard and keep getting better."

Thrush said he was more than happy to recommit to New Zealand.

"I have been loving my footy in recent times with Wellington, the Hurricanes and the All Blacks," the lock said.

"The last few weeks with the All Blacks has been pretty special, especially making my Test debut, and I'm going to work hard and add to that if I get the opportunity."

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said: "I want to congratulate both players on recommitting to New Zealand Rugby.

"They are outstanding men, we were really impressed with the way they prepared and played in the Series and look forward to working with them over the next few years."

Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett said: "Both these players epitomise the attitude and commitment we seek within the Hurricanes and it is fantastic news they have committed to the team till 2015 and 2016. They are both strong leaders and we are delighted to have them on board.

"Dane continues to work hard and puts in the extras required to reach the next level. He is a team man and his contribution to the Hurricanes is invaluable.
 
"Seeing Thrushy make his All Blacks debut was a real highlight. His commitment and perseverance to the Hurricanes and Wellington was rewarded and we know he will strive hard to reach that again."

Coles, 26, has some solid Test match experience after first earning his All Blacks call-up on last year's end-of-year tour - which followed some compelling and livewire performances for the Hurricanes and Wellington.

He started the first two Tests in the recent series against France, before a calf strain ruled him out of selection for the Third Test.

Coles made his provincial debut in 2007 and Super Rugby debut in 2009 and quickly gained a reputation as a fast, mobile hooker. He has also played for New Zealand Under-21 and for the Maori All Blacks in that team's 2010 Centenary Series.

Thrush, 28, brought plenty of experience when he was called into the All Blacks for this year's series - with close to 200 first-class matches under his belt - together with agility in the line-out and mobility around the paddock.

He is now in his sixth season with the Hurricanes and captained Wellington last year.

Thrush was the IRB Under-19 Player of the Year in 2004 after a World Championship-winning campaign in South Africa with New Zealand Under-19 alongside Kieran Read and was also part of two New Zealand Under-21 sides (2005-2006) and the Junior All Blacks.

Coles and Thrush join a large group of recent All Blacks who have committed to New Zealand rugby for the next few seasons - including captain Richie McCaw, playmaker Daniel Carter, props Ben Franks and Wyatt Crockett, lock Brodie Retallick (all signed to 2015), the All Blacks' most capped prop Tony Woodcock, along with fellow props Owen Franks and Charlie Faumuina, hookers Hikawera Elliot and Corey Flynn, lock Luke Romano, loose forward Victor Vito, scrumhalves Piri Weepu, Andy Ellis and Aaron Smith, flyhalf Aaron Cruden, midfielder Conrad Smith, outside backs Israel Dagg and Cory Jane (all through to 2014).

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