Blues coach Tana Umaga has confirmed that Rieko Ioane will play on the wing this season. Ioane has expressed an interest to shift to the midfield, just like Umaga during his playing career.
He may have all the skills to play centre, but Ioane (Te Whānau-a-Apanui, Ngāpuhi) will need to bide his time on the wing.
Says Umaga,“Well it's hard to put him at centre when he's the world's best left-winger. I said, "It's his own fault at the moment."
There is no one more accustomed to shifting from the wing than Umaga, a former All Black centre, who started out as a winger for the Hurricanes.
“When you're on the wing, you're always talking to your midfielder to give you the ball if he doesn't. So once he goes into the midfield, and his winger keeps asking the ball, so he'll know what it feels like.”
The Blues welcome back their All Blacks Ofa Tuungafasi, Jerome Kaino, Rieko Ioane, Sonny Bill Williams and Matt Duffie for Thursday's final pre-season match against the Hurricanes.
“I think Thursday is a good opportunity for us to test what we've been working on, our systems, also our combination because there are a few new guys in the team,” says Ofa Tu’ungafasi.
“They've (The All Blacks) been working pretty hard while were away last week. We've noticed a big shift in terms of excitement,” says Umaga.
Competition is heating up for their first Super Rugby match against the Highlanders next Friday.
Umaga, “There's the hard decisions to be made, who gets to run out in our first game. It's really just that gelling and getting our combinations working again.”
The match against the Hurricanes is in Warkworth and will kickoff at 4 pm.