Lions tour: Rieko Ioane stakes claim on All Blacks jersey in Blues win over Lions
If All Blacks boss Steve Hansen needed any last-minute reassurance of Rieko Ioane's worth to his set-up, he got it on Wednesday night.
With Hansen set to name his Test squad on Thursday afternoon, the two-cap Ioane produced a blinder for the Blues against the British and Irish Lions at Eden Park, scoring a try and making 12 carries in his side's shock 22-16 victory.
Ioane insisted post-game that Test selection had been the furthest thing from his mind heading into the game, which he ranked alongside his two Test caps for intensity.
But the 20-year-old utility back certainly did his chances no harm, with a spot for either the All Blacks or Maori All Blacks appearing inevitable.
"I was happy enough to get a couple of touches in there and happy to score a try as well, it was awesome, the crowd was unreal," Ioane told reporters.
"The boys started to realise how big the occasion was just driving here, seeing the fans out on the streets - after that final whistle, the boys were ecstatic.
"(We've) been grinding all year."
The Lions, meanwhile, stuck to the script in soggy Auckland conditions, producing an improved set-piece but again failing to show any genuine attacking spark.
Without saying as much, Ioane confirmed the Lions' style resembled the "Warrenball" tactics - with big ball-runners crashing over the gainline and quick defensive line speed - that coach Warren Gatland gruffly disavowed earlier this week.
Their sole try, to Irish No.8 CJ Stander, came via a driving maul.
"Definitely a lot more direct, huge backs out there crashing up - I think there's a lot of opportunities for them but, yeah, just the way they play is real direct compared to the New Zealand boys, who like to have a go and fling it wide," Ioane said.
"There's a lot more contact and they have a strong set piece and strong backs out wide, so they're difficult all over the park.
"I think they'll definitely bounce back."