Akira Ioane to leave Blues after iconic 10-year career


All Black Akira Ioane has revealed he is Japan-bound at the end of the 2024 season, drawing to an end an iconic Blues and New Zealand International career.

Ioane, 28, has now spent a decade with the Auckland Super Rugby club after coming through the ranks at Auckland Grammar School.

Akira and his brother Rieko made their mark on the international circuit initially in the All Blacks Sevens team, competing at the 2016 Rio Olympics but missing out on a medal.

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With the Blues hosting the Brumbies in the semi-final this weekend, the knockout clash will potentially be Akira’s last home game in the Blues jersey.

The club shared a clip on social media late Sunday night revealing the Blues centurion’s decision.

“It means a lot, obviously I’m a born and bred Auckland boy and I never really thought about going anywhere else. This is home, it will always be home,” Ioane said in the video.

“But, at the end of the day I’ve had to make a hard decision and I’ve decided to leave the Blues at the end of this year.

“A tough decision, wasn’t easy. I just thought it was time. I’ve been here 10 years, since I was a young kid coming out of school. It’s something I never truly thought was possible, I’m truly grateful for the opportunity I’ve had.

“It’s going to suck leaving, but on to what I think is bigger and better things for me and where I want to be, when I want to finish rugby.

“It’s not just me and my partner I have to worry about, it’s about making sure I’ve got the means to look after my family.

“That was part of the decision to head to Japan and make the most of what I think is the back end of my career.

“I’m still young but I want to be a part of his (Ioane’s son’s) life and I want to make sure that he has everything that we didn’t have growing up.

“Them before me is my mindset now.”

Ioane took the time to thank all of his teammates, but in particular Jermoe Kaino, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Stephen Luatua and his brother Rieko.

While it appears Ioane’s days in the black jersey have come to an end, his 13 Maori All Blacks caps and 22 All Blacks Tests saw him produce some huge moments.

The move doesn’t necessarily spell the end of Ioane’s international career though, as the utility forward was born in Tokyo to a Samoan father.

For the Blues, while losing a club great is undeniably a mammoth loss, the club are well placed to absorb that loss thanks to names like Adrian Choat and Anton Segner offering huge potential in the No. 6 jersey.

“In the next weeks we will farewell a legend of the club. The epitome of a Blues man,” the club captioned the video.

“Hailing from up north and raised in central Auckland Aki bleeds nothing but Blue. He will potentially play his last game in front of you in a thrilling semi final against the Brumbies on Friday night. Join us in celebrating Akira’s 10 years of dedication to this region.”





Source link: https://www.rugbypass.com/news/akira-ioane-to-leave-blues-after-iconic-10-year-career/

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