Super Rugby 2020: Akira Ioane gets chance to impress for Blues against Hurricanes

Talented loose forward Akira Ioane has been thrown a Super Rugby lifeline, when the Blues face the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday.

Ioane - older brother of All Blacks wing Rieko Ioane - has long been touted as a future All Blacks star, but has struggled to live up to that billing and has slipped behind rookie Hoskins Sotutu for the Blues No.8 jersey.

Sotutu has been one of the standout performers of the Blues' 3-2 start to the season, including consecutive road victories over the Bulls and Stormers over the past two weeks.

But coach Leon MacDonald has selected to rest him against the Hurricanes, giving Ioane another shot in the jersey that had slipped out of his grasp.

"At the beginning of the season, I said that we would select on form, and that we over-played some players last year and their form dropped off as a result," says MacDonald.

"Hoskins has been selected at No.8 on form and has played exceptionally well for us.

"Equally, Akira has been training hard - he is in terrific shape and raring to go now that he has his chance."

True to his word, MacDonald has continued to rotate his players, with three changes to the starting pack that bested the Stormers last week.

As well as Ioane, international prop Ofa Tuungafasi will boost the front row, while Blake Gibson takes the No.7 jersey, with Dalton Papalii on All Blacks-mandated rest.

But the backline - including Rieko Ioane at centre - remains intact, with Sam Nock and Otere Black forming the inside combination.

"We enjoyed an excellent two weeks in South Africa, but some unexpected disruption travelling home has meant we will only get a couple of on-field training sessions this week.

Blues: 1-Karl Tu'inukuafe, 2-Kurt Ekland, 3-Ofa Tuungafasi, 4-Patrick Tuipulotu, 5-Jacob Pierce, 6-Tom Robinson, 7-Blake Gibson, 8-Akira Ioane, 9-Sam Nock, 10-Otere Black, 11-Mark Telea, 12-TJ Faiane, 13-Rieko Ioane, 14-Joe Marchant, 15-Stephen Perofeta

Reserves: 16-James Parsons, 17-Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 18-Sione Mafileo, 19-Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20-Tony Lamborn, 21-Jonathan Ruru, 22-Harry Plummer, 23-Matt Duffie

Join us at 7pm Saturday for live updates of the Blues v Hurricanes Super Rugby clash