Topic: Rugby

Akira Ioane: "There's definitely a score to settle"

  • Auckland

Akira Ioane admits he isn't generally good at remembering the finer details. 

One thing he will never forget however, as a fresh-faced Year 11 student at Auckland Grammar School in the AGS First XV, he was a part of the side who suffered defeat at the hands of a skilled Christchurch Boys' High School First XV, and will be looking to exact revenge when Auckland take on Canterbury in the ITM Cup Premiership final, on Saturday.

"It's definitely on my mind, even from way back then. It's a good rivalry to have," says Ioane (Ngāpuhi, Te Whānau a Apanui.)

Auckland had a narrow defeat to Canterbury at Eden Park in round three, and since then have gone on to win seven of eight matches.

Ioane says, "It's a good way to finish off the season. We're just going to go out and have fun."

And that's exactly the tone that was set, as the Aucklanders ran through their final preparations in their usual Unitec training facility.

However, the news isn't as good for the younger Ioane in the team. Rieko, left out of the match-day 23 with head coach Paul Feeney opting for "experience in the cauldron of AMI Stadium."

The younger Ioane, who has failed to gain much game time in his maiden ITM Cup season, can take pride in the fact that the Aucklanders will field one of the most daunting back lines in the competition.

With All Blacks Charles Piutau at fullback, George Moala at second five-eighths, the depth of the side is evident.

Named to start in his preferred blindside flanker position for the match is Joe Edwards, who is soaking up the fun atmosphere in camp.

He jokes, "The biggest rock star in the team is Akira Ioane, all the cameras are here for him."

Not one to shy away from the intra-team banter, Edwards says Ioane's standout season is the main reason "all the cameras are up in here today".

Auckland takes on Canterbury in the ITM Cup Premiership Final, at AMI Stadium, in Christchurch on Saturday. Kickoff is at 7:35pm.