Coltman to bring up century for Highlanders

Liam Coltman during his 99th Super Rugby game last week, against the Bulls at Forsyth Barr...
Liam Coltman during his 99th Super Rugby game last week, against the Bulls at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Photo: Getty Images
He is the happy and understated hooker who has quietly amassed 99 Super Rugby games.

And tonight Liam Coltman will join the Highlanders' 100 club when he plays against the Waratahs in Invercargill.

His family will be in the stands - well, most of them. Five-month-old daughter Ruby will be at home with his mother-in-law.

But his wife Aleisha, one-year-old daughter Tilly, his father, brother and father-in-law will all be in the crowd.

It will be a wonderful occasion for the 29-year-old. He is the seventh Highlander to reach the milestone for the franchise, and the second hooker after Anton Oliver.

"I'm still pinching myself really," Coltman said.

"It is a huge honour to finally [have] chipped off 100 games."

"I grew up in the 'Naki [Taranaki] but the Highlanders were always a team I loved to watch.

"Anton Oliver, being an All Black as well, was definitely a guy I looked up to. It is pretty special to join that club."

Coltman made his debut for the Highlanders in 2013 at Forsyth Barr Stadium. He came off the bench for the match against the Chiefs.

The Highlanders lost 41-27.

"It was not a great year for results, but I was stoked to make my debut. It was an unreal game.

"It was tit-for-tat the whole way. They ended up pulling away with it at the end."

The first game is always memorable, but the highlight came two years later. The Highlanders collected the Super Rugby title with a 21-14 win against the Hurricanes in Wellington.

Beating the Sharks in South Africa in 2014 was a thrill too.

"I don't think we'd ever done that before. That was absolutely unbelievable.

"Winning the Super Rugby title in 2015 was the icing on the cake. It does not get too much better than that.

"There [have] been heaps of highlights. Playing alongside the likes of Andrew Hore and Tony Woodcock in my first year - it was awesome to have those guys around."

Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger said Coltman was a joy to coach and endorsed him for the All Blacks World Cup squad.

"He is a great example of a guy who does not require too much pushing. He is internally driven and our influence around that is pretty minimal."

"He'd be one of my three hookers, for sure.

"Just look at what he has done this year. He's physical, his set piece game is outstanding. Around the field he is dominant with his tackles, he gets over the ball - it's his point of difference getting the ball back.

"He's a strong man. He's really added a carry to his game this year as well. He's going through the collision and being a bit more explosive.

"Everything that we've asked for him to grow in his game he's done it. I think at the moment he's a complete package."

What did Coltman think of that assessment of his World Cup prospects? Well, he was as modest as ever.

"I'm happy with the way I'm going. What happens outside of that is up to whoever is selecting and doing that sort of business."

Highlanders 100 club

Ben Smith    152
Aaron Smith   135
Anton Oliver   127
Jimmy Cowan   108
Chris King   106
Elliot Dixon   102
*Liam Coltman   99


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