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'He's rolling his sleeves up in more of the darker arts'- Foster pinpoints growth

By Josh Raisey
(Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Rieko Ioane’s evolution as a centre this Rugby Championship has been clear for all to see as he starred in the All Blacks‘ 53-3 win over Argentina in Hamilton on Saturday.


The 25-year-old scored a try, bagged an assist and made three line breaks against the Pumas, building upon another standout display against South Africa last month in Johannesburg.

The decision to move Ioane from the wing into the midfield has been one of All Blacks head coach Ian Foster’s projects over the past two years, and though at times it has not been too popular, he clearly feels it is bearing fruit. Speaking after the win, Foster said that his perseverance in this shift has been painful at times but he was “determined to grow some athletes.” On top of that, he said that the former winger is now getting involved in different areas of the game, which is giving him more and more confidence as the All Blacks continue to build towards the 2023 World Cup.

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“I thought it was probably one of his best test matches I’ve seen him play for a long time or probably one of his best centre,” Foster said.

“It’s just time in the saddle, you know, and this is not an ‘I told you so’ but we’ve been putting a similar combination out for a reason and we’re pretty determined to grow some athletes that we’ve got a bit of faith in, and there’s been being a little bit of pain in that.

“But what we’ve got out of him is I think he’s confident, he’s feeling secure in his environment and I think he’s rolling his sleeves up in more of the darker arts of the breakdown and the ball carrying perhaps than what we’ve seen and I think that’s probably given him the confidence to get more and more involved.”


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