Ioane playing No12 his way

Josh Ioane runs with the ball during last week's game against the Crusaders. Photo: Getty Images
Josh Ioane runs with the ball during last week's game against the Crusaders. Photo: Getty Images
Josh Ioane is just trying to do things his way.

There has been plenty for the 24-year-old to learn since sliding out one position to second five-eighth.

That is where he will start against the Rebels at Forsyth Barr Stadium tonight, outside Mitch Hunt for the fourth time this season.

He may not be the modern-day, explosive, hard-running No12. But that is fine.

He is not trying to be Ma’a Nonu or Sonny Bill Williams. Instead he is trying to offer something different.

"Browny [assistant coach Tony Brown] expressed to me I’m going to play second-five in my own way and don’t try to play it like anyone else," Ioane said.

"That’s pretty much what I’m trying to do, play it the way I play it within our team structures."

Ioane stood out playing first five-eighth last year and earned a call-up to the All Blacks in the position.

He has also played fullback at various stages, although he had a few outings for Otago at No12 last year.

Brown is happy with how Ioane is going and feels the combination is improving every week.

He feels they need both him and Hunt on the field, which spurred the move.

On top of that, they felt Ioane would be better utilised at second five-eighth, rather than shifting him to fullback.

"We just feel his skill set’s a bit more suited in the front line on attack," Brown said.

"Just being able to move the ball. I think you saw [last] weekend he moved the ball in space to score both our tries.

"That’s the skill-set we need in the front line so that’s where we’ve got him."

Ioane said both Brown and head coach Aaron Mauger had been key in helping him, having played in the five-eighths themselves.

The biggest change was the decision-making time.

At 10 there was more time to make decisions, although there was also more of a focus on controlling the game.

Defence was also a change, being in the front line and making head-on tackles rather than being in the back field and taking high balls.

Despite that, he was happy doing either, so long as he was playing.

The Highlanders come up against a dangerous Rebels backline tonight.

Matt Toomua, Dane Haylett-Petty and Marika Koroibete all bring threats the Highlanders will need to shut down.

The Highlanders have made several changes to their forward pack.

Daniel Lienert-Brown and Ash Dixon come into the starting line-up for Ayden Johnstone and Liam Coltman.

Jack Whetton replaces the injured Josh Dickson, while Teariki Ben-Nicholas comes in at blindside flanker while Shannon Frizell takes an All Black rest week.

Highlanders v Rebels

Forsyth Barr Stadium, Friday, 7.05pm
Highlanders: Michael Collins, Josh McKay, Rob Thompson, Josh Ioane, Jona Nareki, Mitch Hunt, Aaron Smith, Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, James Lentjes (c), Teariki Ben- Nicholas, Jack Whetton, Jesse Parete, Siate Tokolahi, Ash Dixon, Daniel Lienert-Brown. Reserves: Liam Coltman, Ayden Johnstone, Jeff Thwaites, Manaaki Selby- Rickit, Dillon Hunt, Kayne Hammington, Tei Walden, Scott Gregory.

Rebels: Dane Haylett-Petty (capt), Andrew Kellaway, Tom English, Billy Meakes, Marika Koroibete, Matt Toomua, Ryan Louwrens, Isi Naisarani, Richard Hardwick, Angus Cottrell, Matt Philip, Gideon Koegelenberg, Jermaine Ainsley, Anaru Rangi, Matt Gibbon. Res: Jordan Uelese, Cameron Orr, Cabous Eloff, Ross Haylett-Petty, Rob Leota, Frank Lomani, Michael Wells, Andrew Deegan.

 

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