All Blacks hooker Dane Coles has made a successful return to rugby after 11 months of injury setbacks, turning back the clock to set up a try with his first touch in Wellington's win over Taranaki.
Coles hasn't been seen on a rugby field since last November after he seriously injured his knee against France during the All Blacks' end-of-year tour. Further issues involving his hamstring and calf ruled him out of any Super Rugby action with the Hurricanes and delayed his comeback.
But all those issues appeared to be behind him last night as the 56-Test hooker took the field for 16 minutes in Wellington's Mitre 10 Cup match against the Bulls.
Moments after taking the field, Coles chased down a deflected kick and quickly set up a ruck inches from Taranaki's line before replacement front rower Sitiveni Paongo crashed over to score in the next phase.
Wellington went on to win the game 34-10, sealing Taranaki's relegation fate as the Bulls ended their woeful season on a low.