Coles opts to stay with All Blacks
Veteran hooker Dane Coles has ruled himself out of the expected exodus of All Blacks following this year's World Cup, signing a new deal on Thursday to stay in New Zealand until the end of 2021.
The 32-year-old, 60-Test rake who missed all of last year's Super Rugby season through injury said there were still things he wanted to achieve "in New Zealand with teams that mean a lot to me."
The All Blacks face yet another clean-out of talent following the September-October World Cup in Japan with captain Kieran Read leading the move overseas on big-money contracts while coach Steve Hansen is stepping down.
Ben Smith and Nehe Milner-Skudder have already signed with French clubs while other marquee names including Beauden Barrett, Brodie Retallick and Ryan Crotty have been linked to overseas deals and code-hopper Sonny Bill Williams is off-contract.
After New Zealand won the 2015 World Cup, eight senior players -- among them Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Ma'a Nonu -- either retired or moved offshore.
But Coles said he "never played rugby to chase money. It was always to play for the love of the game" and play for his Super Rugby club Wellington Hurricanes and the All Blacks.
Coles hoped other senior players would also remain in New Zealand, but he understood why many chose to leave.
"Everyone is different and I can only speak from how I feel," he said.
"It would be awesome to see other guys stay in New Zealand, but people have got families to support and other goals in life and that's totally up to them.
"But it's not the end of the world staying in New Zealand, it's a beautiful place to live with great people and that's why I want to stay."
Coles, however, faces a battle to re-establish himself as the number one hooker in the country after Codie Taylor inherited that role during his injury absence and was this year a finalist for the New Zealand Player of the Year title.
Hansen kept Taylor as his first-choice hooker ahead of Coles in the November northern tour, but said Coles remained an "important asset" for the All Blacks.
"Dane is a valued member of the All Blacks group. He is an important leader on and off the field and passionate advocate for the game and the All Blacks," Hansen said.
"He is an important asset to any team he plays for and we're all very happy he has re-signed."
© 2019 AFP