One of the first critiques from Steve Hansen regarding his team's performance in the defeat by the Springboks in Wellington was how many of his players became too individualistic in the often desperate final quarter.

Jordie Barrett's quick throw-in to Rieko Ioane earlier in the test was an obvious and high-profile error as it led to Willie le Roux's converted try and the fullback won't be the only All Black to have his performance picked apart by the coaches, although he is one of the few involved at Westpac Stadium likely to sit the next couple of tests out.

That was an obvious example of the 21-year-old Barrett getting the risk and reward equation wrong, but Ioane was probably culpable too as he was banking on a favourable bounce rather than heading towards the ball and, besides, the best left wing in the world has his own balancing act to consider.

Ioane, who has since signed a new four-year deal with New Zealand Rugby which will make him one of the highest paid players in the team, scored a fine individual try in the left corner (his second of the test) as the game headed towards the final quarter but he was also guilty of trying too much on his own.


On the one hand he should probably be given credit for preparing to have a crack because another by-product of pressure is for players to retreat into their shells. And if anyone can create something out of nothing it is the 21-year-old who has scored 18 tries in 18 tests.

The trick, and it generally comes with age and experience, is to know where and when to take such risks when other higher percentage plays are available.

"It wasn't a great game for us in Wellington," Ioane said in reflection today. "We know we didn't perform well as a team and especially some individuals like myself who didn't perform to the standard that we should have."

All Black Rieko Ioane scores a try. Photo / Photosport
All Black Rieko Ioane scores a try. Photo / Photosport

Given his youth and talent, Ioane can be forgiven for trying to force things as the clock clicked down on a rare defeat and the anxiety among the supporters in black at Westpac Stadium increased along with the exhilaration of Boks fans.

And it should be remembered that while Ioane is one of the quickest and most explosive players in international rugby, he's had an up-and-down year performance-wise for several reasons, including the fact that he was played out of position too often by Blues coach Tana Umaga.

He was in no mood for celebrating at the Cake Tin in July when, while wearing the No 12 jersey, his Hurricanes counterpart Ngani Laumape ran in four tries, many of which were due solely to Ioane's defensive errors in a relatively unfamiliar position.

It's difficult to know what toll that had on Ioane's confidence – although he did find it in himself to run in two tries on either side of halftime which briefly put the game back in the balance.

But Umaga is unlikely to select Ioane in the midfield again and Ma'a Nonu's impending arrival at the Blues is another step in the right direction as far as keeping the speedster on the left wing goes.


Ioane scored five tries in three tests against the French in June – two at Eden Park and a hat-trick in Dunedin. His playing minutes were limited after he pulled a hamstring just after halftime in the Bledisloe Cup test against Australia in Sydney which kept him out of the return match in Auckland and the test against the Pumas in Nelson.

His game management, like that of fellow youngsters Jordie Barrett and Damian McKenzie, 23, remains a work in progress, but, like the other two, his talent and game-breaking ability is undeniable.

Ioane spoke of the intensity and keenness among the team to put right that defeat on Sunday at Estadio Jose Amalfitani, and midfielder Sonny Bill Williams, who is returning for his first match in three months, probably got it spot on when he said: "When I've been involved in a loss we delve deeper into the solutions and we have the tough conversations we need to have."