Chiefs confirm signing of one-test All Blacks star Josh Ioane
It was announced on Monday that Ioane’s former team, the Highlanders, had released the 26-year-old playmaker from the last year of his contract “to enable him to explore other opportunities”.
The decision has brought an end to Ioane’s four-season spell with the Dunedin-based franchise, as the Maori All Blacks pivot has instead opted to throw his lot in with the Chiefs for next season.
The Hamilton-based franchise confirmed the acquisition of Ioane – who comes into the squad seemingly as a replacement for star playmaker Damian McKenzie, who is set to go on sabbatical in Japan next year – on Tuesday.
“Josh is a quality footballer and welcome addition to the Chiefs,” interim Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan said via a statement.
“His versatility and experience is advantageous, but more importantly, creates further depth and genuine competition for places across our backline.
“That brings a healthy edge to a team environment and we need that to keep fostering individual and collective growth. I know Josh is excited about challenging himself in a new environment and we look forward to him joining the Chiefs whanau in 2022.”
That came after a superb Super Rugby campaign which looked like the beginning of a long and fruitful career at the Highlanders for Ioane.
However, his time in Dunedin was instead marred by numerous off-field incidents involving alcohol, including this year, when he and five other players were stood down for a match for excessive partying in the wake of their loss to the Hurricanes in Dunedin.
Despite his off-field disruptions, Ioane spoke highly of his time in Dunedin as he thanked the Highlanders for the opportunity they afforded to him.
“I’ve loved my time with the Highlanders and am grateful for everything they’ve done for me” he said.
“However, I’m excited to link up with the Chiefs whanau. They’ve built an amazing culture up there from what I’ve heard and I admire what the Chiefs are about. Hopefully I am able to add something to that environment.”
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