‘Their mindset will be just as intense’ – Rieko Ioane

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Ioane said if the shoe were on the other foot, it would be more motivation to give a quality performance to go out and prove the critics wrong.

 

"They've got experience throughout their team, 149 Tests for [lock] Alun Wyn Jones, so I'm sure there's definitely a lot to play for, and their mindset will be just as intense, and they'll be preparing just as hard as we are.

 

"I know that I would want to be in these big games and barring a few injuries I'm sure that won't change for them as well," he said.

 

Ioane, who will play on the left wing, acknowledged that maintaining consistency when switching between centre and wing was challenging. But he said he had benefited this year by being more in weekly touch with coaching staff rather than broader contact that had happened in the past.

 

"That's something that has really helped me," he said.

 

It was also helpful having players like Sevu Reece, Will Jordan, George Bridge, and all those in the midfield, to work with. They pushed each other, and it helped all of their games.

There were always differences associated with changing positions, and there were game plans for different teams and the way opponents prepared to play the All Blacks.

 

"I know what I would like from my midfield being a winger so Albie [Anton Lienert-Brown] likes the same things that I do so it's been pretty smooth so far with the help of our midfield," he said.

 

They were also motivated to produce a good performance in honour of first five-eighths Beauden Barrett's achievement in playing his 100th Test, something halfback Aaron Smith managed earlier in the year.

 

"I know it is something he is very proud of, and the way he has gone about it, and his career has gone, is something inspiring. Baz [Barrett] is a quality player, and to notch his first, then 50, and now to finally get his 100th is going to be a special occasion.

 

"He brings that x-factor to our backline and to our team, as well as that calm head under pressure so it is going to be awesome to be part of his 100th and I'm sure he's going to put on something special for us," he said.

 

The Principality Stadium was one of the best places to play, along with Twickenham, and he had fond memories of playing there.

 

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