It was Coles’ first match in four months after being sidelined with concussion problems and numerous other injuries. The 30-year-old, 49-test All Black admits he pondered retirement at one point and wondered whether he would ever be able to chalk up the 50-mark milestone for the All Blacks.
Coles initally covered for Ricky Riccitelli early in the match after the starting hooker went for a Head Injury Assessment and then permanently replaced him in the 50th minute.
And the world-class number two showed some excellent touches, including his assist for TJ Perenara’s game-sealing try in which he shrugged off three Brumbies defenders and showed tremendous pace before timing his pass perfectly to the scrum-half.
And Coles has spoken of his immense relief at being back on the park, saying the dark times has helped him learnt to cherish every moment.
“It was an awesome feeling to be back on the pitch with the lads,” Coles told Stuff.
“It’s been a pretty hard four months, and to do something I love, just to put the Canes jersey back on, was a great feeling. It means a lot to me to wear this jersey.
“It was something I thought had been taken away from me, but to do it again … words can’t really describe how I’m feeling at the moment. I’m just happy to be amongst it and doing something that I love.
“I know it’s a cliche, but to have something taken away from you, and in the situation I was in I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to pull on the Hurricanes jersey again, there’s definitely a new appreciation. You’ve just got to cherish these moments a bit more and never take it for granted, I suppose.”