Arguably the star of the All Blacks’ Bledisloe Cup victory over the Wallabies last weekend was back-rower Akira Ioane, who put in a superb performance in the loose.
With an array of talent in the back-row position, Ioane put his hand up to maintain his place in spectacular fashion, proving more than a nuisance for the Australian defence.
Ioane showcased not only his strength in the nitty-gritty stuff, but also his pace and mobility in open play, and set up two of his side’s six tries in a 38-21 victory.
Despite admitting to “still figuring out a few things” as he continues to gain more experience at international level, Ioane certainly showed very few nerves during possibly the most complete performance of the match.
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Ioane often beat the first defenders with ball in hand and also displayed great hands to offload to supporting runners and keep the speed of play high.
With the All Blacks somewhat undecided on its first-choice blindside flanker (Shannon Frizell and Vaea Fifita were used in the 2019 Rugby Championship with the latter joining Ardie Savea for the Rugby World Cup), Ioane has most definitely thrown his hat into the ring.
New Zealand will now head to the Gold Coast, with the Rugby Championship having moved to the east coast of Australia, to face Argentina this weekend and Ioane will again be keen to cement his place in the starting XV with another powerful outing in the black shirt.