Crocked Coles showed the way
REACTION: Hurricanes captain Dane Coles played through the pain barrier as he led his team to their maiden Super Rugby title.
The Hurricanes won 20-3 against a willing, but perhaps naive, Lions team in Wellington on Saturday to make amends for the agony of losing in last year's Final.
Coles, who had to overcome a serious rib injury to start the match, left the field in agony early in the second-half - after taking yet another blow to the midriff - but bravely returned to action when his team needed him.
When replacement hooker Ricky Riccitelli was sent to the sideline to stem the blood flowing from a knock to the face, Coles did not hesitate to remove his tracksuit jacket to come back on the field.
He spent the last fortnight recovering from rib injury that ruled him out of the semifinal and was still in doubt in the build-up to the Final - having been bracketed in the team and passing a late fitness test.
"I made a run and didn't have too much in me," Coles said about coming off the bench, despite the agony of the aggravated rib injury.
"But it is a Final.
"I knew Riccitelli was only a blood bin, so it was just one of those things you wanted to do for the team."
Meanwhile, Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd revealed his side's win over the Lions on Saturday was relief more than pleasure.
Boyd said he couldn't have taken another finals loss at home.
It took him months to get over losing last year's Final, not because the Highlanders didn't deserve to win, but because they felt if they had played better they might have been able to do the job.
"There was a fair weight of expectation - the last [New Zealand] Super side to lift the trophy and obviously the whole franchise is delighted," Boyd said.
"We've had good self-belief and trust and I think it has carried us a long way.
"We didn't get the crumbs we wanted, but when you put that much pressure on the opposition and you get some crumbs then this side, along with a lot of other Kiwi sides can punish you for those crumbs."
In compensating for the loss of experienced players in mid-field and the locks, Boyd said they had players come into those roles who wanted to work hard and do the best they could and Michael Fatialofa and Vaea Fifita had been revelations meaning they were almost playing five loose forwards.
He also stressed about replacing departing Victor Vito.
"They have been great and I've always had confidence in the guys in the mid-field," he said.
"I think Victor has been much misunderstood in a lot of ways and my personal opinion is he may have been a little short-changed in the black jersey," he continued.
"I think he's been an absolute trooper for the Hurricanes. He has been consistently outstanding for us all season along with Ardie Savea and Brad Shields who have made a pretty good loose forward trio."