“Great to make my family proud” - Rieko on being back in black

By Jamie Wall

All Black winger Rieko Ioane

All Black winger Rieko Ioane was all smiles after his return to test rugby last night in Oita. Ioane scored a try in the team’s 63-0 pounding of Canada in their second World Cup group match, and said he was ‘very happy’ to be back on the park.

“All in all very happy to be back out there. To put in a decent performance, I was proud,” he said.

Ioane admitted he had a sloppy start to the game, as both sides struggled with the hot and humid conditions. He made a couple of handling errors, but shook it off to put in a decent second half in which he found himself at centre.

He also revealed he’d had plenty of support from his parents back home.

“You sort of don’t realise what you’re in because you’re right in the thick of things. When you take a step back after the game, you’re like ‘far out, this is pretty crazy’. Mum and dad were crying, Aki (brother Akira) was sending me messages of what they’re up to, so it was awesome to make my family proud”.

Ioane benefitted from a vintage display from Sonny Bill Williams inside him, who laid on a try for his winger at the start of the second half. 

Despite the good performance, Ioane still has a battle on his hands to get his top XV spot back from George Bridge or Sevu Reece. The All Blacks now move back to Tokyo where they face Namibia, then on to Toyota City where they play Italy. Both are excellent opportunities for Ioane to get across the line a few more times, if named.

“To get a couple more games under my belt will be awesome. But look, there’s a lot of healthy competition. It’s gonna be real good”.