Cape Town - Respect that has long marked the relationship and rivalry
between All Black hookers Dane Coles and Codie Taylor was evident again in
London this week.
Taylor, the apprentice to his Horowhenua team-mate Coles
when first selected for the All Blacks, has stepped up significantly in the
absence of Coles due to injury and had claim to the incumbency at hooker ahead
of Saturday's Test against England.
But having seen Coles' return in the All Blacks win over
Japan at the weekend he recognised all the signs that suggested his senior was
back and feeling good now that the injury concerns were behind him.
That was especially obvious when he had scored a try when
while 'seagulling' on the wing, something all hookers aspired to.
"You could sense he was ready to get stuck in and I
think it was a great stepping stone for him to get that confidence back so he
can get back in to some serious Test footy. He did what he always does and
performed in the black jersey," Taylor told the All Blacks' official
While Coles had been under his injury cloud he had stepped
back a little and allowed Taylor and Nathan Harris to stamp their own mark
which had been 'awesome' but seeing him back and his usual bubbly self was good
because it meant he felt 100 percent and he was ready to go again.
It was inspiring the way Coles had battled and come through
and it was like he had never left, he said.
That hadn't lessened Taylor's own competitiveness. Ideally
he wanted to be starting, as did any All Black who wanted to represent his
country and do it proud.
"For me I've got my own things I'm trying to work on
and really develop and that's what drives me every day to get better because I
know you're never the finished product, that's for sure," he said.
Lock Sam Whitelock said the early arrival of the advance
group of 23, and the weekend break, had been beneficial for the side. The
players were fresh and their sleep patterns had settled quickly.
He said after the workload he had this year he was feeling
good and being older he was more aware of what he needed to do to get the best
out of himself.
"These last couple of days have been awesome to get
over the flight and allowed us to have a pretty normal Monday and
Tuesday," explained Whitelock.
They had watched the Japan game together and were delighted
with the outcome.