Frustrated Hurricanes hooker Dane Coles wants to make up for lost time after shaking off the effects of a third injury to disrupt his Super Rugby season.
Coles will make just his sixth appearance this year when the ninth-placed Hurricanes face the third-placed ACT Brumbies in Canberra on Friday.
The man anointed as the successor to veteran All Blacks rakes Keven Mealamu and Andrew Hore comes off a six-week spell spent recovering from a fractured eye socket.
That followed shorter breaks caused by an ankle sprain and thumb ligament tear.
It leaves the 26-year-old desperate to avoid visiting his medical staff again as the Hurricanes fight to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
“They say things happen in threes, so hopefully that’s the end of it,” he said.
While he feels physically fresh, Coles knows match fitness could be an issue in Canberra.
He wasn’t able to train properly for two weeks after suffering the eye injury in a head clash with teammate Jason Eaton at practice.
This will be his only game before a possible appearance in New Zealand’s first Test against France in Auckland on June 8.
Coles participated in limited fashion at the two All Blacks training camps this month and is expected to be named on Sunday in the Test squad alongside Mealamu and Hore.
He says he became worried in recent weeks that he may not be deemed ready for the Tests.
A goal since pre-season training began was to add to the first four Test caps he picked up on last year’s European Tour – all off the reserve bench.
“It’s hard watching, especially after getting a taste of that end of year tour, and having a goal to go and get back in that team,” he said.
“It’s pretty hard when you’re not playing to make it to the All Blacks.”