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We cannot let foot off pedal - Ioane

We cannot let foot off pedal - Ioane

All BlacksJuly 6, 2024

Memories of the way the All Blacks allowed England to snatch a 25-25 draw in their last outing in 2022 will be on their minds in Saturday's Steinlager Ultra Low Carb first Test in Dunedin.

Centre Rieko Ioane said the lesson from that Test was that they cannot let their foot off the pedal if they get in front.

"We were in such a strong position last time...and if we give them any sniffs, they'll find chinks and finish strongly."

Discipline was also essential to prevent them from ticking the scoreboard over with penalty goals. They also look to unleash their back three.

"They are a dangerous team all over, so it's going to be a big challenge."

Reece said he was grateful to be back after an injury frustrated his season in 2023. 

In his absence, Emoni Narawa, Mark Tele'a and Caleb Clarke had all been performing well, so when able to play again it was about answering the challenge their form had set.

"Everyone's fighting for their 11-14 jerseys and I had that mindset from the start that I wanted to be back in here. I'm glad everything went to plan."

Looking at the threat England poses, he said they were aware that England likes to use the high ball a lot, and the back three have prepared for that.

While his injury resulted from an incident with Ioane in a Blues-Crusaders game, Ioane said having Reece, one of the team's characters, back was good.

Ioane said he had been a fan of Saturday's fullback and Blues teammate Stephen Perofeta since he joined him in Super Rugby in 2017. At the same time, while suffering injuries, he had been building to where he is now.

"I'm excited to see him with the ball in hand. He's one of those players that thrives in the big games, and I know he's been looking forward to playing a Test match like this, so I can't wait to see him go and we'll do everything as a backline to get around him and make his job easier."

After sharing in the Blues' Super Rugby Pacific success, Ioane said he had to shift his focus to Test rugby.

"The last week was about building our combinations and getting over the game plan. We're in a great spot now, clarity wise."

His combination with second five-eighths Jordie Barrett was good.

"He knows exactly what his game is and then it is how my game and our backline fits around that. He's a key part of this team and it [their combination] is a lot easier, but we want to keep building that."

The environment under Robertson's coaching was different, but he had already experienced differences with the Blues under Vern Cotter's coaching earlier this year.

"Razor [Robertson] is an awesome coach in the way he's connected us all so quick."

After the highs and lows of finals rugby, the players started at zero, and the mental shift to prepare for England started on the first day of their camp last week in Upper Hutt.

"I'm loving the way the environment has been running so far. Razor's energy filters through all the coaches. They show that, and players who have played under Razor bring that same energy and it's only now that I realise that."

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