Teenage star Akira Ioane has been confirmed to join the Blues, it was announced today.
The strapping loose forward, a star of Sir Gordon Tiejens’ All Black Sevens team last year, could make his debut in Saturday’s opening game of the Investec Super Rugby for the Blues who are at home against the Chiefs.
Ioane, who has been a trainee with the Blues for the past few weeks, was named as the fulltime replacement for Peter Saili.
Akira, who was born in Japan, has rugby in his blood with his father Eddie a former Samoan international while mother Sandra played for the Black Ferns.
He was a stand-out for Auckland Grammar and the New Zealand Secondary Schools team before being snapped up by the New Zealand Sevens last year.
“He has been one of most consistent performers in pre-season,” said Blues Performance Coach, Isa Nacewa. “He is a big guy but extremely fast and can look forward to a big future in the game.
“He has shown in our pre-season games that he is more than ready to step up.”
Akira’s younger brother Rieko is following in his footsteps, after his exciting debut for the All Black Sevens last weekend, while the Blues have also already signed the young flyer to their squad for 2016.
“Both of these boys are super quick,” said Blues loose forward Steven Luatua.
“Akira is strong but so fast and he has been learning very quickly. Rieko is very slick and exciting for a young guy.”