'He's a freak': Teammates reveal how much quicker Rieko Ioane is than Will Jordan
The 24-year-old flyer was named by former Blues teammate James Parson as his pick for All Blacks player of the year on the Aotearoa Rugby Pod following a stellar season of test rugby.
Flitting between the wing and the midfield throughout the course of the year, Ioane was a standout in a subpar All Blacks campaign as he established himself as a first-choice player in either position.
Parsons, who played alongside Ioane at the Blues between 2016 and 2020, told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod that what was most impressive about the utility back’s season was how he utilised his pace both in attack and on defence.
“I think Rieko’s had a massive year,” Parsons, the former two-test All Blacks hooker, said.
“Just in attack, his ability to put the team first, whether he’s at centre or he’s on the wing, he did what was asked of him in those moments, but, more importantly, the efforts we saw from Rieks on [defence].”
A prime example of Ioane’s defensive speed was seen when he backtracked about 50 metres to tackle Wallabies fullback Tom Banks during the third Bledisloe Cup test in Perth nearly three months ago.
In the wake of that match, the All Blacks claimed on social media that Ioane reached a top-end speed of 38.5km/h in that piece of play, and Parsons said it was that “lethal” turn of pace that makes him “a freak” and a highly-valued addition to the All Blacks.
“I don’t know if you remember in Perth, he chased back about 40 or 50 metres to stop a try,” Parsons said.
“He did it the other day against the French as well, and we’re seeing more often, I suppose, his speed allowing him to make some real big defensive plays as well as the attacking stuff, so I think Rieks should be really proud of his year and what he delivered for the All Blacks.
“It’s just that injection of pace. It’s just so lethal, and we haven’t seen it, I suppose, in the defensive side [of his game].
“We’ve always known him for the attacking [side of his game], but I think he got up to 39km/h when he was chasing back [to tackle Tom Banks]… But he’s a freak when it comes to that stuff.
He is partial to a good invitational team…https://t.co/b7vCv8qFiU
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“The best thing this year, more often than not, we saw him pull it out in big moments and score good tries, but also save them.”
Parsons added that, at his peak, the fastest time he saw Ioane clock in at was almost 11 metres per second, which translates to a speed of 39.6km/h.
“I think if you’re over 10 metres per second, you’re humming. That’s a good 100 metre time, and I’m pretty sure Rieks was close to 11 metres per second [at his best] at training.”
Crusaders and Maori All Blacks halfback Bryn Hall suggested that would make Ioane one of the fastest players in rugby as he told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod that an “elite” speed for outside backs is “anything over 34-35 km/h”.
Even then, Jordan’s fastest pace would still be at least 1.5km/h slower than Ioane’s, if the claims made by Hall, Parsons and the All Blacks are all accurate.
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“Will Jordan’s the fastest at the Crusaders, and he’s like 36-37 km/h, so it just shows how fast Rieko is,” Hall told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.
“If Rieko is at 38-39 km/h, like Jip [Parsons] is saying, then it just shows [how fast Ioane is]. We know how fast Will Jordan is. He [Ioane] is an extra two kilometres faster [per hour].”
Suggestions that Ioane is among the fastest players in the All Blacks squad were supported by his international teammate Damian McKenzie, who told the What A Lad podcast last week that the 47-cap star is the fastest player in the national squad over 100 metres.
“All of those winger, they’re rapid. Beaudy [Beauden Barrett], they’re all pretty quick. My best is probably just over a short distance. I start to fade getting late in the 100 metres.
“Again, Rieks, Nuggy’s [Smith’s] rapid. His first couple of steps, he gets away pretty quick… And Lasher [Mo’unga], he’s pretty quick over 10 metres, too. He’s speedy.”
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