Super Rugby Pacific: Akira Ioane primed for Blues return after frustrating knee injury layoff

The thick strapping on his knee suggests he's keeping the medical supplies industry alive, but Akira Ioane is ready to be back in blue.

The loose forward has spent almost two months of watching, after suffering a medial ligament knee injury in the opening half hour of the Blues season.

"I hate watching, especially when the boys are playing," he told Newshub. "I was a bit gutted, but once I got over that and knew what I had to do, then I made a plan and that plan's finished now."

That plan could see Ioane, 27, finally return on Saturday, when the Blues host NSW Waratahs at Auckland's Eden Park.

Being back on the field is more of a focus than higher honours, like a ticket to this year's Rugby World Cup in France.

"It's a bit hard to think about it, when you're not playing and other boys are," he added. 

"I just need to focus on getting into a routine and playing regularly. I've just got to make sure I do my job for the team. 

"I don't want to go out there and try to do too much, overplay my hand and stuff's not going my way. I'll end up being more of a hindrance than helping out the boys."

Play leads to pay though - as younger brother Rieko found out this week by signing a four-year extension with NZ Rugby until the 2027 World Cup.

"Oh yeah? Did he?" quipped the elder Ioane. "Lifetime deal at the Blues, I heard."

With Akira's contract up at the end of the season, there are now questions over who he'll hang his hat on.

Akira Ioane hasn't played for the Blues since the first round of Super Rugby Pacific.
Akira Ioane hasn't played for the Blues since the first round of Super Rugby Pacific. Photo credit: Getty Images

"That stuff will handle itself, once I start playing. If they want me, they want me, but I can't really say much - I haven't played."

"I haven't really thought about it. I haven't really given it any thought.

"If that conversation does come up, I'll talk to the people that matter. Maybe you'll hear it, maybe you won't."

Until then, it may have to be Rieko's shout.

"Yeah, why not?" Akira joked. "I heard it was a biggie."

Join Newshub at 7pm Saturday for live updates of the Blues v Waratahs Super Rugby Pacific clash