Ioane eyes midfield return

Tue, 28 Nov 2017 06:08

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Rieko Ioane, the World Breakthrough Player of the Year award winner, has expressed a desire to return to the position he played as a schoolboy, and in large part for the Blues this year.

"Thirteen's probably the long-term goal but for now, if I play 11, I play 11 and I'm pretty comfortable playing there," he told NZ Newswire.

"I'll probably start to pick up playing centre a bit next year but for now I'm just happy to get on the field where I can."

This year he started in seven games at centre for the Blues, making headlines in the Round One clash against the Rebels with three tries, before finishing the season largely on the wing, where he played six games.

A shortage of back three personnel – with Ben Smith on sabbatical, injuries to Israel Dagg and Jordie Barrett and a drop in form from Julian Savea opened the door for Ioane to find a place on the left wing.

Ioane was nominated for Breakthrough Player of the Year and Player of the Year at the World Rugby awards, after a stellar season on the left wing for the All Blacks where he scored 10 tries in 11 matches.

When he returns to Super Rugby with the Blues next season, he will be looking to push his case for further All Black selection in the midfield.

"If I play 13, I'll just look to keep developing my game at centre," he said.

"With the likes of Sonny [Bill Williams] and George Moala in the midfield at the Blues, they'll be huge influences in helping me do so."

By: Colin Brooke, RugbyPass