“We can’t take our foot off the gas” – Reiko Ioane recognises how All Blacks can’t ease up against ‘dangerous’ England after 2022 draw at Twickenham - Ruck

“We can’t take our foot off the gas” – Reiko Ioane recognises how All Blacks can’t ease up against ‘dangerous’ England after 2022 draw at Twickenham

The last time England and the All Blacks went head to head, Twickenham was treated to an unbelievable comeback which shocked the stadium. New Zealand took a 17-3 lead into the half-time break, before a Beauden Barrett drop goal Reiko Ioane’s try extended the score-line 25-6, with just 10 minutes of play.

The match looked to all onlookers in South West London as a foregone conclusion, with some England supporters exiting ‘HQ’ early, in order to beat the mass exodus of frustrated fans to the high street train station. However, the tide began to turn with eight minutes left to play, as prop Will Stuart drove over to score, with his try igniting an unexpected retaliation.

Owen Farrell of England celebrates after a try by Will Stuart of England during the Autumn International Series match between England and New Zealand at Twickenham, London on 19 November 2022 (Photo: Micah Crook/PPAUK)

Leicester fullback Freddie Steward followed suit two minutes later, with Twickenham now giddy with excitement with the deficit narrowed down. The roof almost came off the home of English rugby when Stuart crossed over for his second try.

The Bath man clawed his side within two points of drawing level in the 79th minute, before Marcus Smith dutifully added the all-important conversion to gain his side a share of the spoils.

New Zealand centre Reiko Ioane recalled this match in today’s All Blacks media session, with the midfielder frustrated as his side threw away a sure-fire win. Ioane expressed the importance of keeping the pressure on England to the very end in Dunedin, when the two sides meet on Saturday at the Foryth Barr Stadium.

“The big one that is at the front of my mind, is that we can’t take our foot off the gas. We were in such a strong position last time and they are such a strong closing team.

“If we give them any chinks they will finish strongly and discipline is a good one, giving 3, 6s and 9s (repeated penalties). But also their abilities are to unleash their back-three. They are a dangerous team all over, it will definitely be a big challenge come Saturday.”

All Blacks head coach Scott Robertson has named his squad for Saturday, with Blues fullback Stephen Perofeta a stand out inclusion in the starting XV. Perofeta gets set for only his fourth New Zealand cap, and is prefereed over the vastly more experienced Beauden Barrett, who takes a seat amongst the replacements.

Ioane has been enjoying playing alongside Perofeta this season, as the Auckland teammates won the Super Rugby title in some serious style. The Blues ran roughshod on the Chiefs in this season’s finale, with Ioane and Perofeta at the heart of the 41-10 landslide. Ioane gave his thoughts upon the fullback, and his expectations of his Blues buddy against Borthwick’s side.

“Oh, look Stephy is, like I said, when he sort of got to the Blues, I’ve always been a huge fan of him. You know, through injuries throughout his career and sort of building to today, he’s, he’s been a ‘gunner’ every time he’s taken the field for whatever team that is, and especially at 15.

“You know, he commands a lot, sort of being able to play 10 as well. So his talk and his game, his defence has grown. But you know, I’m just excited to see him with ball in hand, and he is one of those players that thrives and big games and I know he’s been looking forward to playing a Test match like this. So, I can’t wait to see him go and we’ll do everything as a back-line to get around him and make his job easier.”

Elsewhere in the back-three, Scott Robertson has named Sevu Reece upon the wing. The Crusader is set for his first All Blacks cap since the 2022 Autumn Series win against Wales, as he had been out of action with a severe knee injury.

Reece was ruled out of the Rugby World Cup, but battled back well to have a barn-storming Super Rugby season, and end the campaign as the league’s top try scorer (12 tries). “It was a a pretty nasty injury” Ioane added. “But his spirt was what was missing, it is good to have him back.”

Whilst there has been some considerable changes to the All Blacks side, one consistency is the 12-13 axis of Jordie Barrett and Reiko Ioane, who line-up in the centres against England. The playmaking partnership has a total of 124 Test caps between them, with Ioane excited to once again run out alongside his midfield teammate.

“I think as players yes, but sort of coming into the All Blacks environment, it’s never easy. And I think you’re always on edge. So, I think, as I touched on, everything’s a step up. But in terms of my combo with Jordie, it’s quite easy. I feel as though he knows exactly what his game is and then how my game and our backline fits around that.”