Dane Coles faces another long injury lay-off

By , Daniel Gilhooly is a Roar Guru

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    The All Blacks expect Dane Coles to feel like a caged tiger over the off-season after his injury-plagued season ground to a halt in France.

    First-choice hooker Coles suffered his second serious injury of 2017 when he damaged anterior cruciate ligaments in his left knee during New Zealand’s 38-18 win over Les Bleus in Paris.

    Scans revealed the damage to the 30-year-old, who was on crutches when the team arrived in Lyon on Sunday.

    Coles will return home soon after Tuesday’s midweek match and undergo an operation which will sideline him for four to six months.

    It means a return to the Hurricanes midway through the Super Rugby season, leaving him to contemplate another extended break.

    Coles played in the first four rounds of Super Rugby this year before ongoing concussion symptoms forced him to miss the rest of the campaign.

    He was also ruled out of the series against the British and Irish Lions, finally rejoining the All Blacks for the Rugby Championship.

    He started seven straight Tests, giving him 11 matches in total for the year, something his team-mates reckon won’t sit well.

    First five-eighth Lima Sopoaga expects the tough hooker will respond with a world class 2018 season.

    “You don’t wish that on anyone, especially on someone who missed out on the Lions series and he’s worked so hard to get back,” Sopoaga said.

    “The character of the man, he’ll be back fitter and stronger and I’m sure he’ll be even more mouthier come Super Rugby.”

    Coach Steve Hansen says the knee injury won’t be as difficult for Coles to deal with as the head knock, which caused uncertainty throughout.

    “It’s disappointing for him but, having recovered from the head knock, an ACL is nothing really,” Hansen said.

    No replacement will be required, with the squad already carrying three hookers.

    Codie Taylor is likely to wear No.2 in the remaining Tests against Scotland and Wales, with Nathan Harris his likely back-up.

    Hansen painted a relatively rosy medical picture elsewhere for the tourists.

    Lock Luke Romano receive a nasty cut to inside his ear when he was stood on during the Paris Test.

    Captain Kieran Read was replaced early in the second half at Stade de France, favouring a tight groin.

    Hansen said the injury “appears” to be OK, leaving Read likely to lead New Zealand into Saturday’s clash with Scotland in Edinburgh.

    © AAP 2017