Ioane settling into new role

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The transition had been boosted by having coach Aaron Mauger, who had filled a similar role with the Crusaders and All Blacks during his career, guiding him.


"I'm happy that I've got Brownie [Tony Brown] and Azza (Mauger] who have played those positions and helping out a lot. I've learnt some good stuff that I'm really happy with as well. I'm looking forward to just continuing to grow there and try and take opportunities where I can.


"I feel like there's a lot of good stuff that's going on but also I'm finding a lot of challenges that come with playing 12 now.


Ioane said the coaches had said to him that they wanted to have both he and Mitch Hunt on the field at the same time and it would be best for the team if Ioane played second five-eighths.


There was less time in the position compared to first five-eighths and he needed to make quicker decisions whereas one position in it was more of a controlling game.


Brown told him he was going to play second five-eighths in his own way and not to try and play it like anyone else, and that was how he was approaching the task.



The demand of defence was another change for him and he said he struggled in that area against the Crusaders and had been working hard this week to try and fix the issues involved.


He said he enjoyed his exposure to the demands of Test rugby last year with the All Blacks and it had hit home to him how important preparation was and the amount of work that went in that the general public never see.


But for the moment his concentration was on doing his job for the Highlanders.


The side were looking forward to being back at home under the roof to play the Rebels.


Mauger said the decision to have their particular five-eighths combination was based around what was best for the Highlanders while also providing an opportunity for Ioane at the next level.


"He's learning about his game and understanding it more and more each week and the more he plays in that jersey then the more he learns and the better he gets, and I'm continuing to see his combination with Mitch really gel.


"It's one we're really excited about and it's going to keep getting better," he said.


Mauger believed with the firepower the Highlanders have on their flanks the ability to move the ball was a key strength. That had been seen against the Crusaders and it was something they wanted to build on.



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