The Ioane brothers, Akira and Rieko, two of the hottest sevens prospects in the world after their exploits in Wellington and Sydney recently, will re-join the Blues tomorrow and could play in the team’s final pre-season match against the Chiefs next week.
The pair are likely to have plenty to talk to their teammates about once they get back into Super Rugby mode because both were instrumental in the success of Gordon Tietjens’ team over the past two drama-filled weekends.
Akira, 20, was named player of the tournament in Wellington, after his side beat South Africa in a thrilling finish, and once again a week later at the Sydney Football Stadium when they beat Australia in similar circumstances after the hooter. That was despite 18-year-old Rieko scoring a hat-trick of tries against the Australians, the last of which left the sold-out stadium stunned.
Both impressed with their power, pace and work-rate, with 111kg Akira almost unstoppable in open play. One of his more impressive tries of the past fortnight came in the Sydney semifinal against Fiji. Bursting out from his own 22m line, he put a fend on Vatemo Ravouvou which sent the would-be defender sprawling.
He and Rieko will join a squad in good spirits after their 59-7 thrashing of the injury-hit Rebels at Pakuranga last week, with first-five Piers Francis, who suffered a sprained ankle, the only casualty.
A truer pre-season test for the Blues will come against last year’s losing finalists the Hurricanes at Eketahuna on Saturday, before they play the Chiefs at Pukekohe next Friday, a match which assistant coach Alistair Rogers said the Ioane brothers could be involved in