Fiery skipper Coles backed by Hurricanes

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John Plumtree has encouraged Dane Coles not to back down, even if it means upsetting the match officials.

The Hurricanes had no problem with captain Dane Coles' testy demeanour with the referee in their latest Super Rugby win.

Coles raised eyebrows with his aggression when questioning Kiwi whistler Chris Pollock during Saturday's 28-17 defeat of the Waratahs in Sydney.

The All Blacks hooker was warned for swearing by a clearly-unimpressed Pollock, who was controlling his 201st and final first class match before retirement.

Assistant coach John Plumtree says while Coles may be learning his way in referee relations, he won't ask him to tone it back.

"Dane's a pretty competitive character and in a pretty tough sort of position," Plumtree said.

"If there's ever going to be any flack, it's going to be in the front row and he's certainly not going to be the guy who backs down, that's just in his character."

Coles, 29, has carried a reputation as a firebrand player throughout his career, admitting last year that he was baited by Test opponents.

His appointment this year as skipper in place of the departed Conrad Smith was greeted with some surprise, given he hadn't led a team since college level.

Plumtree says he is unaware of any complaints about Coles' dealing with referees this season.

"He has to set an example and talk to the ref in a certain way," he added.

"He'll learn and grow as he goes along but he's never going to back down to anybody, it's just not in his makeup."

Plumtree says his team made a point of taking it to the Waratahs physically, upsetting the hosts with off-the-ball pushes and niggle.

It didn't go unnoticed by this Saturday's opponents, the Crusaders.

Their assistant coach Brad Mooar expects more of the same in Saturday's key clash in Christchurch.

"I think in their last two games they've shown a real physical edge and been happy to take on the confrontation," Mooar said.

"Niggly or not – I'm not sure. But certainly physical with a number of game-breakers."