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Akira Ioane to leave Blues after iconic 10-year career

By Ned Lester
Akira Ioane celebrates 100 games for the Blues. Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images

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.

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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.

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“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.

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“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 Jerome Kaino, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Steven 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 the departure 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.”

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Comments

7 Comments
j
joe 15 days ago

Had all the attributes to succeed, Strength, speed to burn and skills an inside back would be proud of, could tackle, chip…….they should’ve tried him at inside centre, he would’ve been awesome.

J
Joseph 15 days ago

Still not convinced Akira is a good player, especially at international level. Was never physically dominant in any of his clashes, and only plays well against physically smaller teams like USA, Japan, or Tonga

T
T-Bone 15 days ago

Playing very well this year and deserves this chance
We will now see the Japanese born Akira lining up for Eddies Brave Blossoms next year 😀

S
SadersMan 15 days ago

The call of the ATM league is not to be ignored.

E
Easy_Duzz-it 15 days ago

Another wasted talent , should of been 6 for All Blacks in 2017 or 8 in 2018 ready for the 19 World Cup …

J
Jon 15 days ago

Well done Akira on a great career so far, good luck with the rest.

Hope to see you on an International paddock this year.

M
MattJH 15 days ago

He’ll dominate in Japan. Good move.
Very disappointing he never reached his potential in NZ. Could have been a special player.

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Mzilikazi 2 hours ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Very good article, Nic, and I find agreement with what you write virtually 100%. I think this two mach series has increasingly become one which will be very difficult for Ireland to win. After the first game of the last 6N, I would have been very full of confidence taking on the Boks in SA. France beaten by a big margin in France, it looked as if Ireland had emerged in fine form from the World Cup, despite the very narrow loss to the AB’s. But after that game, a slide began, ending with the defeat to England. Ireland were very fortunate to win this years 6N ! And as you so fully expose, this has not been a good season for Leinster, or indeed, in my view, for any Irish province. The Leinster loos to the Bulls, and then Munster letting a glorious chance slip to the Glasgow Warriors down at Thomond. Man, that one will really hurt. And both Connacht and Ulster have at times looked very poor this seaso, bith heavily beaten on occassion. The loss of both Gibson Park and Keenan are huge blows, especially Gibson Park. And there is really only one clear class 10 in the touring party, Jack Crowley, and he is still a very young player learning his trade. If he goes down, heaven help Ireland. And in my view, Ireland do not have a good scrummaging front row, SA do, and in great depth too. But despite all this doom and gloom, I always believe my team can win. Not that they will win, just can ! Ireland will still field what is the best and most talented team overall that I have seen in my lifetime. But the coaching group will really have to step up, no awful decisions like the one made against the AB’s in the QF….keeping the totally spent and poorly performing(on the day) Sexton on for the full 80mins, leaving Crowley on the sidelines. Ireland should never have lost that game !

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S
Shaylen 5 hours ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Ireland have all the tools required to hurt SA. They develop quick ball, hold onto the ball for long periods, stretch the game when its on, have powerful mobile forwards, a good kicking game and they can hold their own in the scrum. They also can force turnovers regularly and in general do well at the breakdown. When Munster, the Ospreys and Glasgow all won games in SA this year against the Bulls and Stormers they did just that and won. It is also the reason why Ireland won the game at the world cup last year. The problem for Ireland is that SA have all the tools required to hurt them as well and hurt them a great deal more than England did in the Six Nations. They are physical and powerful at the set piece, they rush up and counter the Irish attacking system and they can really attack the breakdown and slow your ball down. Their counterattacking threat is also a big weapon and they score many tries from turnover turning defence into offence in a second. Toulouse and the Bulls nailed Leinster in this way and Glasgow did the same thing to Munster. So the series will be really interesting because both sides are so good at countering each other. Interested to see what kind of surprises Tony Brown springs and how the SA game develops. Feel like SA have more potential to surprise Ireland but then a new coaching set up as well as the fact that Japanese and foreign based players tend to take about 5 to 6 weeks to get up to speed might work in Irelands favour. SA have shipped at least one game in 4 of the last 5 June/July test windows going back to 2018 for this exact reason.

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