Otago waits to see Ioane's availability

Josh Ioane training for the All Blacks. Photo: Getty Images
Josh Ioane training for the All Blacks. Photo: Getty Images
Otago is in a tight spot regarding Josh Ioane and his immediate future.

The avenue of Ash Moeke appears to have passed Otago by as it looks from within to find another first five-eighth.

Ioane will line up at fullback for Otago tonight in the pre-season match against Tasman in Nelson. He is then out of the opening two matches for Otago in the Mitre 10 Cup as he will be with the All Blacks in the two Bledisloe Cup games. He will not be part of the official All Black squad but will train with the team.

After that, whether he comes back to Otago will all depend on whether Ioane makes the All Black World Cup team. With Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo'unga certain to be in the squad, Ioane could be the option of the third first five-eighth.

Whether the side will take three pivots to Japan is still up in the air and we will have to wait until the squad is named. The All Blacks took three first five-eighths to England in 2015 in Beauden Barrett, Dan Carter and Colin Slade although Slade and Barrett were more utility players.

Otago coach Ben Herring said he naturally wanted any of his players to become an All Black and Ioane was no different. That was why you coached players.

If Ioane did not make the All Black cut he would come back and play the rest of the season for Otago.

Moeke played for Otago in the Ranfurly Shield defence in Oamaru last Friday and converted all seven tries in a tidy display.

Otago would have liked to include Moeke but finances dictate decisions and Moeke is believed to have got a better offer from the East Coast union.

After not winning a game for two years, East Coast has organised and has also signed former All Black winger Zac Guildford who was not wanted by Waikato.

Kaikorai back Ben Miller has undergone an operation on his knee and his season is over so he is no longer in the picture.

Otago has turned to Vilimoni Koroi to wear the No10 jersey and he will start there tonight.

Herring said Koroi was a good fit for the position as he had good vision, was a good communicator and had the ability to spark the side.

He will have fullback Michael Collins to help guide him.

Collins is nursing a groin complaint and it is hoped he is back for the Ranfurly Shield challenge against Southland on August 17.


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