Super Rugby: Coles, Barrett back for Hurricanes' play-off against Brumbies
- Hooker Coles has not played for the Super Rugby champions since limping off with a knee injury against the Otago Highlanders in March
- Barrett has also been recalled after the fly-half missed last week's regular season finale against the Canterbury Crusaders
New Zealand hooker Dane Coles will make his long-awaited return for the Wellington Hurricanes on Friday after being named on the bench for their Super Rugby quarter-final against the ACT Brumbies.
Coles has not played for the Super Rugby champions since limping off with a knee injury against the Otago Highlanders in March and has battled concussion symptoms throughout the season, while also struggling with calf and rib problems.
He returned to training with the All Blacks but played no part in the drawn series against the touring British & Irish Lions, and told New Zealand media on Tuesday that being sidelined was the "hardest four months" of his career.
"I got into some dark places, I couldn't really do any exercise and I had conversations with my partner about retirement. It was really hard," he said.
Coles, 30, could play up to 30 minutes at Canberra Stadium against the Australian conference champions depending on how starting hooker Ricky Riccitelli performs.
Coles' All Blacks teammate Beauden Barrett has also been recalled after the fly-half missed last week's regular season finale against the Canterbury Crusaders. His return relegates Otere Black to the bench.
The All Blacks No 10's younger brother Jordie will again start at centre due to Vince Aso's continued absence with a groin strain.
Although playing on the Brumbies' home turf, the Hurricanes are raging favourites to beat the Canberra side who they thrashed 56-21 in their last meeting in Napier earlier in the season.
But Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd said the Brumbies were a better side than their 6-9 regular season record suggests.
"The Brumbies are a quality side and we're not reading anything into their results this season," he said.
"They have a proven record in Investec Super Rugby over a long period and will be hard to beat at home."
Updated: July 19, 2017 09:29 AM