Akira Ioane isn't going to the Hurricanes, but for the sake of his overall development maybe he should have.

The All Blacks selectors like the potential in the Blues No8, but they don't like the bad habits that he has retained from being the biggest kid running around for the Auckland Grammar first XV.

For whatever reason, his four years at the Blues haven't changed that.

The 23-year-old doesn't put his shoulder into tackles often enough – preferring to grab and throw – and he doesn't run on to the ball enough. Ioane's stock in trade is running from the back of a scrum and off the back of a ruck or maul – all from a standing start.


The former is fine – and he's one of the best in New Zealand at running from an attacking scrum. In fact he can be devastating here. But the latter isn't. Run consistently from a static position in a test against a Rugby Championship side or England, France, or Ireland and the physical punishment will shorten your career and compromise your team.

Would a move to the Hurricanes have helped with that? Possibly. At the very least it would have challenged Ioane and forced him to confront a new environment out of his comfort zone. He may have been more open to new ideas and to change.

Akira Ioane of the Blues in action. Photo www.photosport.nz
Akira Ioane of the Blues in action. Photo www.photosport.nz

He and younger brother Rieko are becoming dominant figures at the Blues – rightly, because of their talent and in particular Rieko's, the best left wing in the world and a player who has become an automatic selection for a big All Blacks test.

Rieko's development has been clear – he appears quicker than when he made his All Blacks debut in late 2016, and he is constantly adding new things to his game. He has vision and has become a brutal defender as well as one of the best finishers in the world.

Akira has developed too since making his debut for the Blues under John Kirwan in 2015.

His on-field discipline is better, he isn't as easily distracted by the silly stuff – the ball-throwing and pushing and shoving of the opposition after the whistle.

He is clearly working hard on his game and the three weeks in camp with the All Blacks during the June series (he was never named in the squad to play, just to train) has clearly paid dividends. He was engaged and busy for the Blues against the Reds at Eden Park, and he looked fit.

He is a talent – anyone who has seen his long-range tries for the Blues or the New Zealand sevens team, particularly when they won the world series tournament in Wellington in 2016 when he was virtually unstoppable - can see that.

But he has a long way to go before he is close to the finished product. He could be a great at next year's World Cup or the year after. Will that have been more likely if he had made the move to join John Plumtree at the Hurricanes? I think it would.

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