'The most difficult position in rugby': Stormers have Rieko Ioane in sights after midfield switch
The 22-year-old will start in the Blues’ No. 13 jersey for the first time in almost two years, with his last appearance at centre coming in the Auckland franchise’s 21-19 defeat to the Chiefs in round eight of the 2018 campaign.
Ioane has featured just once in Super Rugby this season, playing a starring role with two tries from the left wing in his side’s season-opening 37-29 loss to the Chiefs in Auckland last month.
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A hand fracture suffered in that match, though, has prevented the 29-test All Black from taking to the field since then.
Speaking to SARugbymag.co.za, Stormers head coach John Dobson highlighted Ioane’s positional switch, outlining the defensive pressure the youngster is set to face in the midfield compared to what he has faced on the wing.
“Thirteen is not an easy place to defend,” Dobson said.
“So maybe that could be an opportunity for us. It is what I would like to think.
“I know it is a cliché, but it is the most difficult position in rugby to defend.”
However, Dobson conceded that his side will be under pressure themselves to exploit any weaknesses shown by Ioane after having opted for a forward-orientated approach to their undefeated start to the year.
“The problem is that we have to create the space so that he has got to make a decision, which is something we have not done terribly well over the last few weeks.
“If we are going to play side-to-side rugby or not create the opportunities for our backs, then we are not going to be able to put him under pressure.”
Ioane’s move further in-field isn’t the only positional swap Blues head coach Leon MacDonald has made this week, as England international Joe Marchant has moved from the midfield to the right wing for this match.
Kick-off at Newlands is scheduled for 3:05pm local time.
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