Rugby World Cup: Dane Coles keeping emotions in check before All Blacks swansong

As he enters his final days as an All Black, Dane Coles is doing his best to keep a lid on any emotion that might threaten to derail his preparations for the Rugby World Cup.

While several of his teammates have opted to take lucrative offshore contracts in Europe and Japan after this year's tournament, Coles - as always - will do things his way.

The 36-year-old will retire altogether at the end of the season, not wanting to play anywhere else as a professional.

Dane Coles.
Dane Coles. Photo credit: Photosport

Now, as the All Blacks prepare for a tilt at an unprecedented fourth Webb Ellis trophy, Coles' days as a test player are numbered.

But despite approaching the final apex of his career, being involved in an All Blacks World Cup campaign hasn't lost any meaning to the veteran of 86 tests.

"Being named was a pretty proud moment," said Coles. "For me, obviously we're not there yet.

"For me, especially this year being my final year, [with] the emotional side of it, if you let it get too much, it just gets hold of you and affects your performance. 

"I've just got to cherish each day. How lucky am I to be going to a third World Cup? That's the way I look at it.

"I'm really grateful."

At 36, and with more yesterdays than tomorrows in his career, Coles is realistic about what this World Cup will look like.

With Codie Taylor and Samisoni Taukei'aho having predominantly worn the No.2 and No.16 jerseys in the All Blacks' stunning start to 2023, Coles will likely be the man to make way in Ian Foster's matchday plans.

But ever the team man, Coles is happy to contribute to the All Blacks in an off-field role, as much as he is on it.

"Whatever happens, happens," he continued. "If I'm playing, if I'm not playing, I'm still part of this All Black team.

"That's what means the most to me. That kind of takes care of itself.

"I'm not trying to build it up. There's enough pressure going into a World Cup than worrying about 'final this, final that'.

"Put your feet on the ground, and keep working hard for the team." 

Join Newshub at 6:30am Saturday for live updates of the All Blacks v South Africa World Cup warm-up