Wellington - As Hurricanes captain Dane Coles grimaced in pain on the sideline during Saturday's Super Rugby final in Wellington against the Golden Lions he didn't have to think twice about going back into battle.
"Mate, it's a final," he declared afterwards as the Hurricanes celebrated their 20-3 victory to win the championship for the first time.
Coles, who suffered a painful rib injury during the Hurricanes win over the Stormers in the quarter-finals and missed the semi-final against the Chiefs, was only confirmed as playing shortly before the final began.
He lasted 50 minutes before another blow to the ribs sent him from the field grimacing in agony.
But when his replacement Ricky Riccitelli needed a face wound attended to a few minutes later, Coles courageously re-entered the fray.
"I knew it was only a blood bin so it was just one of those things you wanted to do for the team.
"I made a run and didn't have too much in me," a content Coles said after the game. "But, mate, it's a final."
Despite Coles' bravado, coach Chris Boyd said he "wasn't particularly happy" that the captain played with the injury.
"At one stage he got a run on the short side and he didn't want to go into contact so he went to ground. But he's been immense for us this year."