Rieko Ioane has always wanted to play in the midfield, and, after a few false starts there for the Blues over the past couple of seasons, we're now seeing why.
Given he was overtaken by wing George Bridge last year in the contest for the All Blacks No11 jersey which had been virtually his since 2017, Ioane's increasing comfort at centre may be timely as new head coach Ian Foster surveys his backline options this year.
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It was Foster who took a punt on the then 20-year-old Ioane for the All Blacks against the British and Irish Lions three years ago and it was one that paid off spectacularly.
With Ryan Crotty and Sonny Bill Williams now gone, it's possible Foster could roll the dice again, particularly with Jack Goodhue looking comfortable at second-five for the Crusaders, although Anton Lienert-Brown and to a lesser extent Ngani Laumape also have strong claims to the All Blacks midfield. Braydon Ennor is also likely to be a big mover this year.
There will be those who think moving Ioane into the midfield for tests may be a move too far, but such has been his improvement for the Blues this season in a position which has intricate and challenging defensive demands that it can't be discounted and it his pace which sets him apart.
Ioane is so quick he can stand a little deeper on attack and if defenders over commit he has the speed to take advantage. He has also proven in scoring four tries in five games this year that he has lost none of his power.
Ioane has also beaten 19 defenders and made 10 clean breaks. For a rough comparison, Lienert-Brown, who has played five games, has beaten seven defenders and made five breaks, although he has made more than twice the number of tackles Ioane has and with a far better success rate (90 per cent as opposed to 69 per cent).
For Ioane, having assistant coach Tana Umaga, a former wing turned midfielder, close at hand is a huge advantage.
"It's a work in progress but I'm extremely happy with how everything has gone," Ioane said after scoring two tries in his team's recent 43-10 victory over the Lions at Eden Park.
"Tana has been working alongside me pretty closely so to have a man of his calibre and his expert advice is always handy, and our skipper today, TJ Faiane, marching us around the field has been awesome."
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Ioane said Umaga helped with the little things that may not be obvious from the sideline for example the depth on attack and the quick catch and pass.
More obvious is the way second-five Faiane, a 24-year-old, is helping run a backline which is looking increasingly assured. In many ways the Auckland captain, who led the Blues well on Saturday in the absence of the rested Patrick Tuipulotu, is the team's unsung hero.
"He's a glue to the backline and the team," Ioane said. "He brings the most energy and the boys really respect him for someone so young.
"He's increasing his game and I look forward to bigger and better things in the future."
There are other reasons to be cheerful for Ioane and a Blues team who don't know when they will next play due to the coronavirus pandemic which has put a halt to Super Rugby.
Not only have they moved to fourth on the table after four consecutive wins, they are playing with a composure and style which they used to be associated with during their glory years.
The form of halfback Sam Nock, outstanding against the Lions, hasn't hurt either.
"He's been playing that way since he left school," Ioane said of his teammate. "He and I left the same year. He's always been a ball of energy and to see him finally get some regular minutes and to play like we know he can is awesome. A lot of it starts at training; he's running the most kilometres in training… all that hard work is paying off."