Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Ioane's performance one of the few highlights for Blues

Rieko Ioane of the Blues runs with the ball during the round four Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Blues. Photo / Getty Images.
Rieko Ioane of the Blues runs with the ball during the round four Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Blues. Photo / Getty Images.

The Blues are on light duties during their Easter bye week, and as their hunt for a first away win in almost two years continues, Rieko Ioane is one of the few likely to go to the break satisfied with his performance against the Reds in Brisbane.

It was his bust in the midfield from an attacking lineout which put Ihaia West over for a converted try early on - a possible sign of things to come if Tana Umaga decides to play the 19-year-old at centre rather than the right wing - and the New Zealand sevens star never appeared fazed in his first game at this level.

"Rieko... is obviously a player of the future," assistant coach Glenn Moore said after the 25-25 draw at Suncorp Stadium. "He's an exciting player, he was busy, he went looking for work. He was impressive when he had the ball in his hands and I think he'll grow after having his first opportunity."

Ioane was near the top of the attacking lists over the weekend with three breaks (Joseph Tomane, Ardie Savea and Kurtley Beale had four), and 14 carries in possession (Waratahs first-five Beale was top with 22).

He has pace, good handling skills and an ability to make good decisions under pressure - all qualities honed in the World Series sevens competition and not necessarily shared by all of his Blues teammates.

The team's next assignment is against the Jaguares at North Harbour's QBE Stadium on Saturday, April 2, and they would do well to remember their last match at the venue, a depressing 13-10 defeat to the Lions in March last year in a match supposed to be a celebration of Jerome Kaino's 100th game for the franchise and Keven Mealamu's record-breaking 162nd Super Rugby outing, but which instead finished in funereal silence.

The Jaguares have an impressive pack, but winning the ball has only been a problem for the Blues once this season - their second-round defeat to the Crusaders in Christchurch during which they won only 31 per cent possession.

They enjoyed 53 per cent possession against the Reds, 61 per cent in the narrow defeat to the Hurricanes, and 66 per cent in their round one victory over the Highlanders, a win which seems a long time ago now.

Their problem is what they do with the ball once they get it, and their tendency to get desperate only when games are drifting away from them. They had all the late momentum against the Reds and Hurricanes only to lack the killer blow. They lead the competition in terms of carries per match (121.8 on average) and ruck success (96 per cent) and yet have only one victory in four matches.

Their next away fixture, meanwhile, is against the Chiefs in Hamilton a week after the Jaguares match and Dave Rennie's men showed with their last-gasp victory in Buenos Aires after a horror travel schedule that they will be a significant force this season. Self belief clearly isn't a problem for them; it might be for the Blues, though.

In fact, the Blues' best chance of an away win will be against the woeful Kings in Port Elizabeth. The Kings, beaten 57-24 by the Crusaders, play the Hurricanes in Wellington next and are likely to get worse as the season goes on.

The worry for the Blues is that their season is heading in a similar direction.

Blues' remaining round-robin away fixtures for 2016
v Chiefs in Hamilton on April 8
v Kings in Port Elizabeth on May 8
v Lions in Johannesburg on May 15
v Force in Perth on May 21
v Hurricanes in Wellington on July 2

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