All Blacks: Dane Coles reveals 'weird' exchanges with mate Brad Shields

Sunday morning's (NZT) 16-15 test win over England produced moments of 'weirdness' for All Blacks hooker Dane Coles.

The 31-year-old found himself standing opposite lifelong friend and former teammate Brad Shields, who left New Zealand behind to pursue an international career with England.

After playing in national age-group sides together, then graduating to Wellington and the Hurricanes, Coles and Shields developed a strong mateship over the years.

On Tuesday, Coles told media that the two shared a few cordial text messages during the week-long build-up to the Twickenham clash, but things got a little strange as kick-off approached.

"It was pretty weird last week playing against 'Sheildsy'," Coles said. "I remember running out onto the ground for the warm-up and I was feeling pretty relaxed.

"He was there with his headphones on, not really giving me too much in response, but we did share a bit of a joke at the time.

"It's just weird, because I have played so much rugby with Shieldsy and when you have a real personal relationship like we have, it can be quite difficult.

"But once I was on the field, I was stepping in to counter a ruck, and he looked at me and said 'come on, then'.

"When you're out there, it's about doing your job and putting those relationships to one side."

Coles said the two shared a moment after the final whistle, but the most intense exchange between them came during the pre-game haka.

He admits he sought out Shields during that moment and found his former teammate was doing exactly the same.

"I didn't take my eyes off him," Coles said. "Yeah, I found him and stared straight at him, and we kinda locked eyes for the whole haka.

"We were happy to catch up afterwards and that was awesome.

"It's all about sharing that journey with your mates that you grew up with, even if you are playing for different countries. That's what it's all about these days, with guys finding opportunities to play for different countries and I think it's a good thing.

"It was cool and we swapped jerseys afterwards, which was pretty special."

Coles came off the bench to play the final quarter against England, just his second game in a black jersey, after suffering a serious injury against France last November.

Crusaders hooker Codie Taylor has thrived in Coles' absence, leaving the All Blacks brains trust with quite the selection dilemma.

But Coles is just happy to be back playing and wants to contribute in whatever role the selectors see fit.

"Those things are controlled by the coaches," Coles said. "If they see me in a bench role for the tour, then that is sweet.

"If they see me out of the 23, then that is sweet too. Everyone wants to start, but Codie has done a terrific job this year and he deserves to start, so my goal right now is to push for a bench spot.

"I'm trying to get into a rhythm and each week, I am getting more and more confident, as I find my role coming off the bench.

"I'm just trying to find a way to bring a bit more energy, but I'm really happy to be back playing again. I'm chipping away."


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