Rieko Ioane signs four year deal with New Zealand Rugby

Author
Radio Sport, NZ Herald,
Section
Audio,
Publish Date
Friday, 21 September 2018, 11:04AM
The signing is being seen as a big victory for NZ Rugby. (Photo / NZ Herald)

LISTEN TO JUSTIN MARSHALL TALK ABOUT THE SIGNING WITH RADIO SPORT BREAKFAST ABOVE

All Blacks wing Rieko Ioane has agreed a new four year deal with New Zealand Rugby.

World Rugby's breakout player of 2017, and a player considered the best wing in the world, Blues finisher Ioane has been a high-priority signing for the national organisation.

His new deal will be announced alongside that of his brother, Akira, a loose forward on the cusp of the All Blacks squad this morning. Akira is to commit for three years.

With 18 tries in 18 tests, Rieko has become a key attacking weapon for the All Blacks.

"I feel incredibly privileged to get the opportunity to play my rugby here for another four years. I want to give it my best shot at serving the black jersey and, hopefully, I'll get the chance to play at the Rugby World Cup in the future. That's a huge motivator for me," he said.

"It was obviously tough this year for the Blues, but I feel we're on the verge of something special and I want to be a part of that journey. Auckland is my home, it's where I grew up and it's the city that made me as a rugby player, so I want to do my bit to help it move forward."

The All Blacks coaching staff clearly have big wraps on the winger who became the eighth youngest All Blacks test debutant when he came off the bench against Italy at the age of 19 years and 239 days in November 2016.

"He's a vital component of our plan going forward," said assistant coach Ian Foster in Sydney last month before a Bledisloe Cup test in which Ioane strained a hamstring.

"I can't speak highly enough about him. He came in with a bit of a swagger and he has learned about the All Blacks. What I like is he has got real maturity about him, he hasn't got ahead of himself, and he quietly goes about his work.

"He's learning how to prepare better and better every test match, and when he goes out and plays he seems to enjoy doing what he's done since he was a kid. As long as we can keep him in that mode it's really exciting."

Rieko could have virtually named his price on the open market but is determined to leave a lasting legacy in the All Blacks jersey.

New Zealand Rugby's next priorities will be to lock in first-five Beauden Barrett, locks Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock, and loose forward Sam Cane, all of whom come off contract at the end of next year. All are likely to want to extend their time in New Zealand and perhaps as far out as the 2023 World Cup in France.

Whitelock, 29, with 102 tests behind him, will be earmarked as the next All Blacks captain once Kieran Read, 32, calls it quits.

 

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