Rieko Ioane outlines his work ons

An All Blacks debut at just 19 years of age was the beginning of something special for Rieko Ioane, who has racked up over 60 caps in the seven years since.

The speedster of course started out on the wing but having played centre in high school, Ioane was keen to get back into the midfield and did just that in 2020.

The transition hasn’t always been smooth sailing but with players like Ma’a Nonu, Tana Umaga and Sonny Bill Williams on hand to mentor him, Ioane soon settled into his new home in the No 13 jersey.

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“I’ve had the GOATs of the midfield to work with,” Ioane told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod. “Those three in particular for a 13 who’s trying to establish himself, those three you can’t look past and they’ve helped me each in their own special way.”

Ioane has indeed established himself as the premier centre in the New Zealand setup, owning the 13 jersey under head coach Ian Foster.

The growing pains have been evident but the 26-year-old’s distribution skills have taken huge leaps over recent seasons and the voices of doubt over his transition have gradually faded away.

The work has been paying off and Ioane revealed just what that work looks like ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

“Obviously, there’s always areas you can get better at. Defensive tendencies are a big one and when you get into big moments or fatigue moments, that’s where your habits need to come into it.

“So it’s more that stuff, it’s not too many big things – although there is big parts of my game that I probably could work on – for me, it’s about fine-tuning those instinctive moments.

“So it’s not to tuck and carry now, it’s to draw and pass. It’s to slide and push in defence rather than just rush up and jam, and it’s getting more of those moments correct than not.

“That’s the way I see it, it’s those little moments becoming free-flowing because the centres that have gone before me, they’ve helped the game flow and their impact, although it might not be runaway tries or whatever, they’ve helped linking, they’ve made all their tackles, they’ve done all their core roles really well.

“I want to be able to do that with the flavour I bring to it.”

That flavour is characterised by explosive speed and X-factor, something that the All Blacks failed to unlock in their recent pummeling at the hands of the Springboks.

The backline got limited opportunities against rapid and well-executed line speed pressure from the South Africans.

The defence shut down the combination that has promised to be the future of the All Blacks midfield in Ioane and Jordie Barrett. Barett is also transitioning from being predominantly an outside back.

“I’ve had a couple of games now on the trot with Jordie, seeing what he brings and him bringing his best game to the backline and me also bringing mine is what we’ve probably struggled with.

“We both want the ball, both of our natural instincts are to carry and now it’s how we compliment the backline which is in a really nice spot and those selfless acts, they’re huge.”

Source link: https://www.rugbypass.com/news/rieko-ioane-outlines-his-work-ons/




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