Rugby: Warrior son inspires big Willie's rugby goals

By Shane Hurndell

New Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby prop Willie Ioane regards his nine-month-old son Kenzo as his inspiration.

"When I was in Japan with the New Zealand U20s back in 2009 I learnt Kenzo was the Japanese word for Warrior. Tina [Ioane's partner] and I decided Kenzo would be a good name for our son," Ioane explained after his first training session with the Magpies on Saturday.

"Sitting down with Tina and Kenzo earlier this year I decided it was time I did something about our future. Former New Zealand U20 teammates of mine like Azza [Aaron Cruden] and Zac [Magpies winger Zac Guildford] have gone on to become All Blacks.

"We decided it was time for me to get serious about rugby again and hence my arrival in the Bay ... I want to try and set our family up for the future," Ioane said.

The Palmerston North Boys High School product said the weekend's training session confirmed he had made the right move. "The atmosphere here is pretty good ... different to what I experienced in Taranaki and Counties. The boys welcomed me with open arms and there was plenty of laughter and joking around."

A keen musician, Ioane, 23, pointed out he might be able to add to the positive environment with a song or two before too long. "I'm a churchgoer because my parents used to be ministers with the Voice of Christ Church. I love my music because I've been around it from an early age ... it's the frame of mind I want my son to develop," Ioane said.

"I can play the guitar, bass guitar and the drums. I'm also learning the keyboard."

However his immediate priority is to make the most of his game time off the bench for the Saracens XV (members of the Magpies training squad) in tomorrow's game against Bay of Plenty at Napier's McLean Park.

"I don't mind whether I play tighthead or loosehead. I just need to do everything I can to make the ITM Cup squad."

"I can play hooker too ... but I'm probably too wide for that now," Ioane said with a laugh.

A former two-time New Zealand Secondary Schools representative, Ioane, said he is in the Bay for the long-term and will link up with the Hastings Rugby and Sports Club.

In the wake of the Saracens XV's dominant 46-14 win against the Manawatu Evergreens last week Magpies head coach Craig Philpott has predictably made few changes to his starting XV. He has shifted 18-year-old All Black Sevens rep Trinity Spooner-Neera from fullback to wing in place of the injured New Zealand U20s rep Penikolo Latu.

This move allows world champion All Black Sevens rep Gillies Kaka to start at fullback. The only change sees Mark Abbott replace Johan Schoonbee at lock. New Zealand U20s halfback Sheridan Rangihuna returns from injury and is likely to get game time off the bench. Ioane, fellow prop Jason Long, Magpies captain Mike Coman and versatile French first five-eighth Regis Lespinas are other newcomers to the subs bench.


Saracens XV

Gillies Kaka, Trinity Spooner-Neera, Bronson Neera, Adam Bradey (captain), Mikey Vuicakau, Ihaia West, Chris Eaton, Mark Atkins, Tony Lamborn, Trent Boswell-Wakefield, Mark Abbott, Michael Allardice, Jody Allen, Jesse MacDonald, Brendon Edmonds (vice captain).

Substitutes: Forwards, Josh Te Whata-Colley, Jason Long, Willie Ioane, Johan Schoonbee, Tom Parsons, Mike Coman. Backs, Sheridan Rangihuna, Regis Lespinas, Billy Ropiha, Tamati Samuels.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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