Ioane, Laumape future All Blacks' mid-field?

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    07 Jan 2018     Getty Images

Plumtree, writing in his column, said it was no surprise to him that Ioane achieved his international award.

"The 20-year-old was a revelation for the All Blacks in 2017, scoring 10 tries in 11 Tests.

"He played centre for the Blues in Super Rugby, but the All Blacks' coaches believed he could do a job for them on the wing where there is less pressure and decision-making. Ioane could just get the ball and run.

"Ioane posed a threat every time he got the ball. He's got power, a great step and swerve, and is very difficult to tackle," he said.

That had been demonstrated during the 55-0 win over South Africa at Albany when he manipulated the defence as a result of having room to move. All of his success had been achieved while under pressure to perform knowing Julian Savea was itching to get back onto his wing.

Plumtree believes it is only a matter of time before Ioane is at centre, and that will be as the result of more experience and confidence.

"New Zealand rugby will probably develop another big wing, because that's what it does, so it would make sense to move Ioane. Ryan Crotty and Sonny Bill Willilams won't be around forever, and we could see Ioane partner Ngani Laumape in midfield," he said.

At the end of the New Zealand season Plumtree worked as a defence coach for Japan during their November internationals. He went into that role saying it would be amazing if Japan could beat Tonga or France.

They managed to beat Tonga 39-6 in Toulouse without conceding a try and then drew with France 23-23 in Paris.

"We outscored the French by three tries to two, but missed a regulation conversion late in the game that probably would have won it," he said.

"We went into our game against France believing we could beat them if we put them under pressure on defence. And apart from the two tries they did get, they never looked like scoring against us," he said.