Akira Ioane

Blues coach Leon MacDonald reveals his plan for Akira Ioane

Coach Leon MacDonald said he had room for only one specialist No8 among the loose forward make-up, and that the impressive form of Hoskins Sotutu meant Akira, Rieko’s older brother, missed out.

“This will allow Akira to continue his preparations at home to be fast and ready to add fresh input to the team on our return to take on the Hurricanes in three weeks,” MacDonald said.

Rieko Ioane missing big brother Akira in Blues milestone

The elder brother has long been regarded as one of the most talented loose forwards in NZ rugby, but has so far fallen short of his potential, playing just once for the national side, despite ample opportunities to impress.

Akira Ioane, 24, has already logged a half ton for the Blues - including every game for the past two seasons - but coach Leon MacDonald insists he's one of several unlucky players to miss the cut for the opening game of the new Super Rugby season, making way for Hoskins Sotutu's first start at No.8.

Akira Ioane's mental health battle after All Blacks RWC snub

Ioane, who made his representative debut for New Zealand as 19-year-old at the Wellington Sevens in 2014, has long been heralded as an elite prospect but has yet to make the leap to test level.

After a roller-coaster season with the Blues in 2019, former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen left Ioane out of the squad, citing his fitness and attitude as road-blocks to his inclusion.

Akira Ioane makes the cut, named in All Blacks' 41 player invitation in Wellington

The All Blacks management team announced today 41 players who will be attend the get-together.

Ioane was left out of All Blacks' 51-man squad northern hemisphere tour at the end of last year.

New Zealand Rugby's head of high performance Mike Anthony said the timing of the foundation day is important, given the players' busy rugby schedule in 2019.

"Given the All Blacks have an incredibly short lead-in time to the upcoming international season, culminating in the Rugby World Cup, and with there being no camps during the Super Rugby season," said Anthony.