Blues star Rieko Ioane says the try-scoring celebration jibe by Crusaders wing Sevu Reece has provided him extra with motivation to beat the Crusaders in their reverse fixture in Christchurch next month.
Reece caused a stir on social media for celebrating his 78th minute try by mocking Ioane’s signature cross-armed pose during his side’s 43-27 win over the Blues at Eden Park on Sunday.
After dotting down in the right-hand corner following a clean run to the tryline, the 24-year-old crossed his arms and stared at the crowd, replicating the celebration Ioane dished out after scoring against the Hurricanes and Highlanders earlier this season.
Speaking to media at training on Tuesday, Ioane said he was aware of Reece’s taunt and was eager to get one back over his All Blacks teammate when the Blues next face the Crusaders at Orangetheory Stadium on April 25.
“He’s a cheeky fella,” Ioane said of Reece. “It’s awesome gamesmanship. It’s good to know I’m not the only one doing it and that people actually notice as opposed to just mocking me.
“Full credit to them, winners reap the rewards, he scored so it’s awesome for him. I definitely wasn’t happy about it, don’t get me wrong. It’s stuff like that that gets you going and adds to fire.
“Having Sevu get one up on me, or your mates in the other team get one up or you, is a pretty hollow feeling. You definitely park that deep and once we face them again or even the next game it will be more fuel to the fire.
“I actually didn’t see it during the game so he came round and asked if I saw it. It’s good gamesmanship from them so I enjoy that sort of banter on the field.”
Ioane has become renowned for his try-scoring celebrations in recent seasons, and the 24-year-old midfielder said it’s likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future, even if he has drawn criticism from some viewers for his on-field antics.
“It’s spur of the moment,” he said. “I like to express myself through my game, that’s why we train so hard all year round. When it comes to that 80-minute window that’s the fun time of the week so I like to have a bit of fun with it.
“It’s some peoples’ cup of tea and others not. I’ll keep being me.”
After copping their first defeat of the season at the hands of the four-time reigning champions, the Blues will look to bounce back against the Chiefs at FMG Stadium Waikato this Saturday.
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The Hamilton-based franchise broke their record-equalling drought last weekend as they beat the Hurricanes 35-29 to notch their first win in 11 matches.
That should give Clayton McMillan’s side plenty of confidence moving into the second half of the competition, and Ioane was relishing the prospect of coming up against his side’s local rivals.
In particular, the head-to-head battle with fellow All Blacks midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown will provide Ioane with a stern test as he continues his full-time transition from the wing to centre.
“Playing week to week against your All Black mates the challenge never gets any easier. I know Anton is at 13 now so I’m looking forward to Saturday night,” he said.
“It was an awesome comeback they made against the Canes. The battle of the Bombays is always a big one. It wasn’t long ago they had 20 on us at their home so it’s no easy feat going there and coming away with the win.”
The Blues currently lie in second place on the Super Rugby Aotearoa standings and are scheduled to kick-off their clash with the Chiefs at 7:05pm on Saturday NZT.
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