Lions tour: All Blacks winger Rieko Ioane makes the most of first Test start against British and Irish Lions

  • 25/06/2017

Steve Hansen's decision to start Rieko Ioane in the first Test against the British and Irish Lions paid off as the 20-year played a starring role in the All Blacks 30-15 win over the Lions. 

Hansen was forced to defend the selection of Ioane during the week after he was selected ahead of Julian Savea and Waisake Naholo.

But making his first Test start, Ioane scored two superb tries in the win which brought the Auckland crowd to their feet.

His second try secured the win for New Zealand when Lions fullback Liam Williams shelled a simple bomb and the left-winger scooted past the defence down the touchline and over for the try.

"There were a lot of question marks about the young fella ... was he ready?" Hansen said post-match.

"That second try, not many people would have scored it, because the guys chasing him are very good players and very quick. He was just lucky enough to be a little quicker."

Ioane insisted that his second try was down to pure luck and nothing else.

"I got a bit of a lucky bounce but coach has been talking to me all week and they gave me that confidence just to play which is awesome," he said.

Rieko Ioane goes over for his first try of the game.
Rieko Ioane goes over for his first try of the game. Photo credit: Photosport

"I wasn't expecting the ball to bounce that way and I'm sure they weren’t either so the hole opened up. But I was thinking just run."

It was the third time Ioane has faced the Lions on this tour, having faced them playing for the Blues and again with the New Zealand Maori team in Rotorua.

Both those matches were special for the former age group star but playing a Test match in front of a sell-out crowd in Auckland was particularly special.

"I thought nothing could beat that Blues crowd and that feeling but this topped it again.

"The Lions stepped up the pace from the Maori's game.  I think the Weather helped that quite a bit but I was just stoked to get the start.

"I had to use my legs a bit more and I started to get tired towards the end but I was happy to get a decent eighty."

The Lions now travel to Wellington to face the Hurricanes on Tuesday - which will be followed by the second Test, also in the national capital.