Dane Coles believes that his All Blacks call-up came as a result of tightening up his game and focusing on the core roles of being a hooker.
The 25-year-old Hurricanes hooker and Chiefs scrumhalf Tawera Kerr-Barlow were the only new faces in All Blacks coach Steve Hansen's 32-man squad for the tour of Europe next month, capping an impressive season for both players.
When All Blacks stalwart Andrew Hore left Wellington to join the Highlanders, Coles was given the opportunity to make the starting spot his own, and he took on the added responsibility well.
Known for his slick handling and elusive running, Coles added another element to his game this season by improving his accuracy in the set-pieces, which he believes has made all the difference.
"They gave me a few things to work on if I wanted to be in contention for the end-of-year tour.
"I really worked hard at my core roles. My throwing let me down in the Super 15 and I've really tried to nail that," he said.
Having endured a tough time earlier in his career, with his name in the headlines for the wrong reasons, Coles believes that he has left his hot-headed reputation behind him.
"I've matured a bit and I kind of know the consequences now. If you're in the public eye you've got to watch yourself," he said.
With the 34-year-old Hore and Test centurion Keven Mealamu nearing the end of their careers Coles finds himself in prime position to make the All Blacks No.2 jersey his own in the future and will be desperate to show he belongs when he gets the opportunity in Europe.
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