“It probably sucks at the time, but they didn’t use it as an excuse”

By Jamie Wall

The All Blacks were full of sympathy for the Black Caps after watching the heartbreaking Cricket World Cup final in Argentina yesterday. Hooker Dane Coles and prop Angus Ta’avao admitted that they were ‘gutted for the lads’.

“I think Kane [Williamson, Black Caps captain] hit it on the head, it’s just the rule,” Coles said, referring to the controversial finish to the tied game that saw England win due to having hit more boundaries.

“I know it probably sucks at the time, but hats off to them, they didn’t use it as an excuse.”

Meanwhile, the team have begun preparation for their opening test for 2019 this weekend in Buenos Aires. They will be facing a Pumas side that will be playing their first test of the year too, although the majority of the side played together as the Jaguares in Super Rugby.

That’s the same Jaguares side that made it all the way to the final, a feat that wasn’t lost on front-rowers Ta’avao and Coles during their press conference today.

“I reckon they’ll be full of confidence,” said Coles.

“It’s good to see, it makes game more competitive.”

Both men also talked through the new scrum laws that have been rushed in this week, which seemingly sees a return to the old days of having a proper hit.

“As a hooker there’s a lot more of a hit, like the old scrum. We haven’t gone too hard out with it, but we’ll get a bit more of an idea as the intensity of the week ramps up. The first time we did it we were like ‘holy hell’” said Coles.

Meanwhile, Ta’avao’s long and interesting journey to becoming an All Black regular is getting closer to its destination. The man who started at the Blues, then moved to Australia to try and break into the Wallabies before returning home to sign with Taranaki and ultimately the Chiefs, has been rewarded for another outstanding season of Super Rugby.

He said he had done plenty over the season to fix areas of his game.

“There were work-ons, getting my scrummaging right, being consistently mobile around the field and working hard off the floor. I felt like I ticked those boxes, but the beauty of it is at the moment competition in the front row is probably at an all time high.”

The All Blacks play the Pumas at Estadio Jose Emalfitani on Sunday morning NZT.