New Zealand hooker Dane Coles has admitted he found it “weird” facing his former Hurricanes captain Brad Shields in England colours.
All Blacks front-rower Coles revealed he stared down Shields during the Haka, before New Zealand pulled off a 16-15 comeback victory over England at Twickenham.
New Zealand-born Shields traded the Hurricanes for Wasps in the summer, his English parents allowing him to step straight Eddie Jones’ Test ranks.
Coles insisted it was special to catch up with New Zealand Under-20s graduate Shields after the Twickenham clash, even if taking on his old friend felt slightly alien.
“It was pretty weird last week, playing against Shieldsy,” said Coles.
“I went to check the ground before kick-off and I was pretty relaxed and he had his headphones on, not giving away very much. I wanted to have a joke.
“It’s weird, especially when you’re so close. I mean I played so much rugby with Shieldsy and I suppose when you’ve got a personal relationship it’s quite difficult. But once you’re on the field, when you’re out there you’re there to do a job so you can put those relationships aside.
“We’re happy to catch up after the game though, which is awesome. It makes that journey a little more special, when you get to play with your mates that you grew up with and play for different countries. That’s just the nature of what’s happening now, guys are finding other opportunities to play international footy and that’s all good.”
During New Zealand’s pre-match Haka, Coles admitted he picked out old pal Shields and fixed him with a stare.
Coles said: “I couldn’t take my eyes off him, mate. I found him and I was just looking straight at him. We locked eyes for the whole Haka. He wasn’t giving me much and I was going pretty hard at him, so it was a good little moment.
“It was fun. I gave him a ring during the week and he wasn’t answering my calls so I texted him and he was like ‘I’m not allowed talk to All Blacks this week!’
“He had media and stuff like that but we had a little chat on the phone, wished each other good luck and then we were into it. You put those relationships aside when you’re on the field and you go at it.
“Then after the game you can have a beer. We swapped jerseys, which was a pretty special moment for ourselves. It was cool.”
New Zealand roll on from Twickenham to the Aviva Stadium, facing Ireland on Saturday. Centre Ryan Crotty will come up against another familiar face in New Zealand-born Ireland midfielder Bundee Aki.
Crusaders star Crotty has come up against Aki in Chiefs colours in Super Rugby action, and praised the Ireland centre for making a success of his northern hemisphere switch.
“It’s awesome to see Bundee going so well over here,” said Crotty.
“I remember playing against him for the Crusaders against the Chiefs, and he was a great player back then and he’s just come on leaps and bounds since he’s been over here so it’s cool to see him getting this opportunity.
“A bit like (Robbie) Henshaw as well, who is an outstanding ball runner. It’s a great challenge; whoever gets to play against them will be excited.”