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'Phenomenal' Ioane has the world at his feet, says Hansen

By Jack Davies

All Black coach Steve Hansen heaped praise on “phenomenal” winger Rieko Ioane following his side’s 33-18 victory over Wales on Saturday.

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Ioane was a surprise selection after recovering quicker than expected from a shoulder injury sustained in the win against Scotland last weekend.

And the Blues speedster fully justified his inclusion with two tries and a key role in another for Anton Lienert-Brown, while Waisake Naholo on the opposite wing crossed for the other two.

Ioane is nominated, along with team-mate Beauden Barrett, for the World Rugby Player of the Year award and Hansen is excited about the 20-year-old’s potential.

“Both of them [Ioane and Naholo] are pretty special,” Hansen said. “One’s 20 and thank goodness his shoulder came right, that’s all I can say!

“He’s phenomenal. If we can keep his feet on the floor, he could go anywhere that kid.

“And Wais has just got better and better with the confidence of playing and he’s pretty special too.

“Both of them tonight have been big contributors to the team right around the park.

“They score tries, we all see that, but there’s other stuff they do as well, which was good.”

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Discussing Ioane further, Hansen continued: “He’s quick and when he’s got the ball you think: ‘Wow, what’s going to happen?’

“He only needs half a yard because he’s so quick and he’s strong with it.

“We’ve just got to keep his feet on the floor.”

 

The All Blacks had to withstand sustained Welsh pressure early in the match but proved more clinical in taking their chances.

“We defended really well in that first half when we couldn’t get our hands on the ball,” he added.

“Then, after half-time, we came out and lifted the tempo and started to get our share of the momentum.

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“When we got that we started to take the opportunities that were presented and we didn’t miss too many opportunities.

“So that kept us well in the game and eventually we won it because of that.”

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Turlough 4 hours ago
Jean de Villiers' three word response to 'best in the world' debate

This ‘raging’ debate is only happenning in media circles and has never been a topic in Ireland (although SA media are interested). It makes the media companies money I guess. SA are RWC champions and #1 ranked team although Ireland are back within a point there. The facts point to SA. For a lot of 2021 France beat ALL their rivals and Ireland similar in 2022-2023. It is not wrong to say that on such form either can be deemed to be the current best team if they have beaten all their rivals and ranked #1. The ‘have to have won a world cup’ stipulation is nonsense. The world cup draw and scheduling has been tailored to the traditional big teams since the start. The scheduling also which sees the big teams sheltered from playing a hard pool match the week before has also been a constant. It is extraordinary that for example France have made so many finals. Ireland who were realistically only contenders in 2023 were in a Pool with two other top 5 teams and had to play one of them 7 days before a quarter final against France or New Zealand. Always going to be a coin toss. Scotland’s situation was worse. New Zealand had great chances in 1995, 1999, 2007 but they could not win a tight RWC match. The first tight match they ever won was versus France in the 2011 final, literally they lost every other tight match before that. Some of those NZ teams around that era were #1 surely?

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