All Black star Ioane shuts down Japan rumour
SPOTLIGHT: All Blacks star Rieko Ioane has denied claims that he has taken a contract in Japan’s Rugby League One.
Media reports have linked the New Zealand wing-turned-centre with a move to the Japanese club Ricoh Black Rams.
The rumour mill has it that Ioane will head to Japan after the 2023 World Cup, joining more than a handful of his All Black teammates in finding a pocket-lining contract in Japan.
However, Ioane was quick to nullify these speculations, revealing to Stuff that he had not seen anything about the transfer.
“I haven’t seen anything,” Ioane told Stuff when asked about the move.
He added: “That’s news to me.”
The rumoured contract may not come as a surprise considering the nature of the contract extension Ioane signed last year.
Most New Zealand Rugby contracts secure players over a multi-year period, Ioane instead opted for a single-year extension which leaves his options open following the World Cup.
The departure of the All Black veterans comes as little surprise, but Ioane’s position as a 59-cap 25-year-old whose as close to a certain selection as it gets for Ian Foster’s side may cause some alarm bells to start ringing to an increasingly familiar tune, as the contracts on offer overseas continue to lure Kiwi talent offshore.
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According to The Roar Ioane wasn’t the only young All Black weighing his options, naming David Havili and Will Jordan as players who may be testing the waters elsewhere.
Should more players take their opportunities in foreign competitions, it will add to the gaping holes left in the All Blacks XV in 2024.
The once immovable duo of Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick leave the locking stocks depleted, taking 243 games of international experience with them as they look to play out the remainder of their careers in Japan.
Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga also head to Japan and leave the No.10 jersey vacant and with enormous shoes to fill, while their halves partner Aaron Smith’s departure means the All Blacks will be on the hunt for an entirely new nine-ten combination.
Adding a midfield vacancy to the list continues the concerns over continuity while furthering New Zealand’s trouble with securing a midfield combination, an area that has plagued Ian Foster’s reign as head coach.
Jordie Barrett’s move to the No.12 jersey looked to have ended the period of experimentation and given the All Blacks midfield a bright future with the 26-and-25-year-old Barrett and Ioane partnership offering a broad skillset and a wealth of international experience considering their age.
The details of any offshore contract will resolve the uncertainty but for now, Ioane stays focussed on the Blues 2023 Super Rugby Pacific campaign that kicks off next weekend in Dunedin.
Sources: Rugbypass & Stuff