Tonight's rugby showdown is set to be his biggest test to date, with thousands of fans cheering his name.

But starting wing Rieko Ioane's loudest cheer will be coming from a woman who has long helped him get to where he is today and who continues to keep him humble - his mum.

Sandra Ioane and her husband Eddie will join fans at Eden Park to watch the All Blacks take on the Lions - a game they did not think they would be watching from the stands.

In an interview with Newstalk ZB's Tony Veitch, Sandra admits she and her husband have not had much time to absorb the idea that their youngest son has been named to start against the touring side.


Rieko, who alongside older brother Akira has been playing rugby all his life, phoned his mum after a phone call to his dad passing on the good news this week.

"When he rung up, he just said yeah, he's been named.

"I said: 'Oh good, good. Good on you - the 23, that's awesome.

"He said: 'No, I'm starting'."

Thinking her 20-year-old son was having her on, Sandra - who works as the club manager at her sons' Ponsonby Rugby Club - responded: "Oh shut up."

She said both boys were supportive of each other and still shared a room at the family home in Auckland.

"They've had to sleep in the same room together for blimmin' 19 years. Two king beds - we've got a house that they can have a bedroom each, but they're quite happy to share the same room. Oh well, if they're happy, we're happy."

The Ioane brothers have strong rugby links in both their parents; with Sandra being a former New Zealand Black Fern and Eddie representing Samoa in the famed Manu Samoa team of the early 90s. Their father is a coach with Ponsonby Club.


Sandra revealed she had even offered a place to stay for a Lions fan touring the country.

The man, only known as Alex, arrived ahead of the Lions and Blues match.

She called her husband to let him know she was bringing a Lions supporter home and about 10 minutes after they arrived, she introduced him to her boys - who Alex seemed to think he recognised.

"He was home for about an hour when I think he clicked."