'Finally found their 6 since Jerome Kaino' - The performance by Akira Ioane that should settle who the All Blacks blindside flanker is
After a slow start and some misfires, the All Blacks raced away in the second half on the back of two tries in two minutes to substitute Will Jordan, one of a handful of relative newcomers who impressed on the night.
Aside from Jordan’s cameo, blindside flanker Akira Ioane put in a magnificent performance in what was his second start after his shortened debut in Brisbane against the Wallabies three weeks ago. Ioane was replaced by Shannon Frizell for the first test against the Pumas who was outplayed by Marcos Kremer and his opposite Pablo Matera in the loss.
This fan wrote ‘Last test match, Shannon Frizell can’t handle Pablo Matera, this time around I think Akira Ioane can handle Pablo Matera.’
Ioane carried strongly, punching through Pumas defenders to clock up the most metres of any All Blacks forward on the night while completing nine of 10 tackles and winning two turnovers.
The Blues loose forward came up with two critical steals in the tackle, ripping away possession in contact from the Pumas as they were pressing into All Blacks territory.
His performance didn’t go without notice online, with fans calling his emergence as a ‘positive for the Foster regime’ after they have ‘finally found their number 6 since Jerome Kaino’.
After the win, All Blacks head coach Ian Foster singled out Ioane for his efforts saying it showed that he ‘wants to be here’.
“Akira should be really proud of his game,” he said.
“It was his second start, but his first full game (he played 65 minutes). I thought he showed he really wants to be here.
Foster said it had been a difficult year for everyone after a tough succession of test matches but thought that his side is developing.
“A fortnight ago we’d just played our fifth test in six weeks and it was tough. You saw Argentina play their third test in three weeks and it’s tough. There’s been a lot of challenges for all the teams.
“For us there will still be a few niggly hurt moments, particularly the loss to Argentina, but at least we had a chance to fix it; to show that we can play, that this group is developing. We’ve got a bit more to go, we’re clear about that, but it’s a better way to finish.”
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