Buck’s ad­vice for Ioane: don’t be ‘show pony’

Sunday Star-Times - - Sport - Paul Cully

Wayne ‘Buck’ Shelford has is­sued a blunt chal­lenge Blues No 8 Akira Ioane: ‘‘Be more of a work­horse than a show pony.’’

Ioane is one of the most tal­ented play­ers in the coun­try, but was left out of the All Blacks’ 51-man squad for their tour of Ja­pan and Europe in Novem­ber.

It’s a tough love pol­icy that has found a sup­porter in Shelford, one of the hard­est men to wear the black jersey.

‘‘Akira is def­i­nitely a No 8, with­out a doubt,’’ Shelford said. ‘‘But I agree with what the se­lec­tors say, his work rate isn’t high enough at the mo­ment.

‘‘He’s got to be more of a work­horse than a show pony.

"He tends to hang off a lot and not do a lot of work.’’

Ioane’s re­sponse to his omis­sion from the All Blacks was dra­matic.

He pro­duced two big games for Auck­land at the sharp end of the Mitre 10 Cup and it’s that sort of dom­i­nant form that Shelford wants to see on a con­sis­tent ba­sis.

‘‘Akira is a good No 8,’’ Shelford said. ‘‘He has some re­ally good games and then he has some games where he falls off.

‘‘He’s a very good run­ner, he’s very pow­er­ful around his hips and can break tack­les. We see his good things quite of­ten in the game, but it’s not enough.’’

Shelford said he had some sym­pa­thy for Ioane, be­cause in mod­ern at­tack struc­tures the No 8 and No 6 were of­ten not in­volved for ‘‘min­utes at time’’, giv­ing the im­pres­sion they were ‘‘lazy’’.

How­ever, it was on de­fence that Shelford wanted to see an im­prove­ment, par­tic­u­larly at the ruck.

‘‘I’d like to see him turn­ing over the ball three or four times a game,’’ Shelford said.

‘‘He’s that type of guy that could do it, he’s very much like Ardie [Savea] and very pow­er­ful over the ball.

‘‘If the loosies ac­tu­ally turned around and said, ‘Let’s get three turnovers a game,’ that’s nine turnovers, that’s huge.

‘‘He fights that fight on the ground when he is in the area, but when he’s not in the area that’s a good player who is not ac­tu­ally in­volved in the game.

‘‘You’re los­ing a real pow­er­house.’’

De­spite his reser­va­tions, Shelford said Ioane could change his habits.

‘‘It’s a bit like watch­ing Jerry Collins and Rod­ney So’oialo play,’’ Shelford said.

‘‘They spent two years on those guys teach­ing them how to play rugby.

‘‘They used to ‘T-bone’ all the time and couldn’t pass the ball.

‘‘They were quite self­ish in the way they played, but come the end of their ca­reers they were play­ing bloody good foot­ball.’’

Shelford also backed Kieran Read to bounce back next year with a bit more foot­ball un­der his belt, but saw Liam Squire as the next best op­tion at No 8, rather than Savea. ‘‘Ardie has po­ten­tial there [at No 8], but ev­ery time I see him play the po­si­tion but he makes a few mis­takes at the back of the scrum.

‘‘When you’ve got a good scrum and you’re try­ing to pull the ball for­ward, if you’ve never played in that No 8 po­si­tion it’s re­ally hard to con­trol the ball.’’

Shelford saw Savea as a nat­u­ral No 7, but said that Squire’s was a nat­u­ral No 8 who had been con­verted to the blind­side.

‘‘Liam [Squire] is a No 8,’’ Shelford said. ‘‘I think that Liam was play­ing No 8 when he was [first] picked, but they’ve put him on the side.

‘‘I think he’s good. He could be a No 8 pretty eas­ily.’’

‘‘At the mo­ment Kieran is the num­ber one No 8 and Ardie is the num­ber one flanker. Whether Sam Cane can ac­tu­ally come back into the fray that’s an­other story. It’s a big ask.

GETTY IMAGES

Akira Ioane on the burst for the Maori All Blacks.

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