Playing against the Wallabies in what would become a clean sweep of the Bledisloe Series in Perth, Akira Ioane stood out amongst giants.
“The Enforcer” – that’s what people are calling him now – put in some crazy numbers.
88 meters, three clean breaks, two try assists, 10 tackles and nine defenders beaten from the former Blues no. 8 who has definitely settled in his role at flanker and looks like he is the “go-to” for the long term at the All Black’s no. 6.
His 194cm, 113kg stature is impressive now but Akira has always been impressive since his junior days. Father Eddie Ioane played for Samoa in the 1991 RWC and mother Sandra Wihongi is a former Black Fern, and Akira and brother Rieko have Rugby in their DNA.
Coming to noticable prominance at the 2014 Wellington Sevens at the age of just 19, Akira continued to play with the NZ Sevens squad at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games as well as making the NZ U-20 squad in 2015.
Earning his Super Rugby contract with the Auckland Blues in 2015, Akira rose to visibility as he played in the Blues’ historic defeat of the British and Irish Lions in 2017 following that up with a Maori All Black cap and an All Black cap all in 2017.
The next few years however, were turbulent times for the young man.
Some attribute his falling out of love of Rugby to the Blues overplaying him at no. 8 which led to him even considering walking away from Rugby altogether but luckily, the support system especially from his father and family was always there and even though perhaps the mental break never really did come, his ability to persevere and build eventually took him through a journey of growth and maturity to where he is now.
He not only looks more comfortable at flanker, Akira looks dangerous…
He enjoys the physicality of the game and positions himself to make tackles. He competes in the lineouts and his on-field maturity has developed along with his technical game.
At the age of 26, it can be argued that Akira has only just begun to find his place in Rugby and specifically, the All Blacks.
Keep your eye on him and don’t blink. We may have another legend in the making…