Rieko back and raring to go

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The All Blacks centre said he would have been happy to have continued playing, but having returned after a break, he could feel the benefits. He was refreshed and wanted to play again.

"It's always a game I look forward to. We play similar styles of rugby, we like to run the ball, and it's two good teams in the positions both of us lie on the table and the importance of getting as many points as we can to secure a quarterfinal spot.

"So, we're expecting big things and the Hurricanes are playing some good footy, and they have been throughout the year so we know it's a good challenge."

Both teams had been up and down in their form, but with the Hurricanes replenishing their side after also completing All Blacks' rest requirements, the Blues knew with No8 Ardie Savea leading the way, they faced a big challenge.

"We need to tidy up our discipline. We know that is a big part of our game."

Both teams want the prize of a home quarterfinal, and Ioane said the Blues' knew the advantage to be had from playing in front of a packed Eden Park.

"A packed Eden Park is unlike any other stadium in the world…I know all the boys appreciate when we have a packed stadium."

Being paired in the centres with Bryce Heem this week made it the third different combination used this year, with Harry Plummer and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck the other options.

Heem wasn't a small man, he said and brought a physical presence in the second five-eighths jersey.

"All of our midfields bring a different game but coming off last week both Has [Plummer] and Bryce played outstanding and to have them out there this week will only be good for us."

Heem and Hurricanes and All Blacks second five-eighths Jordie Barrett were players who liked to play physically, and Ioane said he was looking forward to their clash.

The effort against the Reds had been more in line with how the Blues wanted to play.

"I know that with the wingers and outsides that we have, we just want to get them the ball in space and get our big loosies in space. We saw a bit of that last week and hope to see more of that balance this week.

Blues v Hurricanes: Saturday 27 May, 7.05pm, Eden Park. TICKETS.


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