Super Rugby 2020: COVID-19 may stall rugby's European drift, says Dane Coles

Hurricanes co-captain Dane Coles believes the COVID-19 pandemic could have a significant impact on players heading north to cash in with European clubs.

Back at training for the first week since the season was shut down, Coles is more grateful than ever to be plying his trade in Wellington with his long-time franchise.

"It does make you appreciate being in New Zealand," Coles says. "We heard some sad stories of guys playing in France, and they're still in lockdown and their contract is taking a massive hit.

"We're very grateful that we're in New Zealand, and it’s definitely going to have an effect on people looking overseas in that UK and France market. 

"You might get a few old buggers playing Mitre 10 Cup, so that'd be good for the provinces. New Zealand’s a great place, not a bad place to finish up your career."

Coles has relished being back on the park, but the past two months have taken its toll on the All Blacks hooker, who confesses the uncertainty wasn't easy to deal with.

"I went through stages," he admits. "The first couple of weeks, I was really motivated... then there was a lot of chat that rugby could be banned for the rest of the year.

"A few of the boys were like ‘what’s the point’ and then we got through it, and we had some good news at level three. 

"We went through waves and towards the end, with some certainty, we were right up there."

The Hurricanes are easing back into training, with full contact not expected until either week two or three of 'pre-season'.

Refreshed from the unexpected layoff, Coles is confident he has a fair amount of rugby left in him yet.

"The body's feeling really good and hopefully that can extend to maybe another contract, if anyone’s willing to pick me up. It's kind of been a blessing in disguise having this break.

"Hopefully I get another couple of years. That’d be nice."

Super Rugby 2020: COVID-19 may stall rugby's European drift, says Dane Coles