Rieko Ioane wants to play in the midfield for the Blues next season, a request that has already been granted by coach Leon MacDonald and one which will focus more attention on a player who may have hoped for a low-profile start to 2020 as he attempts to re-establish himself in the All Blacks.
MacDonald, in his second year as head coach, has fewer midfield options now that Sonny Bill Williams and Ma'a Nonu have left, but the decision is not without risk, as Ioane's performances in the midfield last year showed.
Of the 15 matches Ioane played for the Blues in 2018, 10 were played in the midfield and split between second-five and centre. Overall, his performances could perhaps be most politely described as mixed - and that's not meant as a slur against an outstanding outside back; just an indication of how difficult it is to make the transition from wing to centre or second-five. Not even Ben Smith could manage it.
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Ioane, who last year got the nod to move to the midfield under former head coach Tana Umaga after Umaga ruled out playing him there at the start of the season, was badly exposed defensively at times, most obviously in the defeat to the Hurricanes in Wellington when opposite Ngani Laumape ran through or around the Blues midfield to score four remarkable tries.
It was a lesson in one player knowing exactly what his role was and another still developing his positional awareness. For Ioane, who has now scored 24 tries in 29 tests, it was a cruel evening, but it clearly hasn't destroyed what now must be considered his long-term vision and for that he perhaps deserves plaudits.
This year, Ioane, who is still only 22 and has been an All Black since 2016, was selected solely on the left wing for the Blues.
He was a near certainty in the No11 jersey for the All Blacks until as recently as August when he was effectively overtaken by George Bridge, and he will be in a fight with Englishman Joe Marchant and the returning TJ Faiane and Tanielu Tele'a for one of the Blues' two starting midfield positions next year.
Ioane is a remarkable talent, but he had a disappointing 2019 and he may feel, even at his young age, that his career is at a crossroads. He would have begun the year with expectations he would start every important World Cup test for the All Blacks in Japan, but played only Canada, Namibia and Wales.
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He was hampered by a calf injury before the World Cup which may have prevented him from reaching his top speed, and the obvious question now is whether he sees a more obvious pathway to the All Blacks via the midfield rather than the left wing after Bridge's incredible rise alongside fellow Crusader Sevu Reece, and the retirement from tests of Williams and Ryan Crotty.
Still, Laumape, Jack Goodhue and Anton Lienert-Brown remain compelling midfield options for the All Blacks, with uncapped Crusader Braydon Ennor almost certain to be in the mix next year.
No matter the level of the game or where he wants to play, Ioane's best position is left wing. MacDonald's acquiescence is understandable - in fact, he may have had little choice given his limited backline options - but there is a danger that shifting Ioane could do more harm than good.