Brotherly love: Rieko Ioane’s joy at bringing a Super Rugby title to his hometown

An emotional Rieko Ioane paid tribute to his brother Akira, his teammates and the city he represented after the Blues’ dominant 41-10 win over the Chiefs in Saturday night’s Super Rugby Pacific final.

Speaking in a raucous Eden Park changing room, the younger of the Ioane brothers spelled out just how much a championship with the Blues meant.

“I put a Super Rugby title above a World Cup, because of how much I love this city, how much I love this club, how much I’ve admired this club.”

It’s the Blues’ first title since 2003, when he was just six years old. Now, 21 years later, the win may be the last time the Ioane brothers are together on a rugby field as Akira leaves to take up a contract in Japan.

“Aki’s the man, bro. Not only a role model to me, but a role model to all the boys in here. During some of the rougher times at the start of our careers, Aki was the shining light at this club… to see him go out like this, it’s exactly what he is, a champion.”

For Rieko, who will almost certainly be named in the All Black squad on Monday morning, it was a concerted team effort under the guidance of veteran coach Vern Cotter that made the difference.

“Waiting 20-something years for this, Aki’s last game, everything sort of added up,” Rieko said.

“I’m just so proud of the boys. I talked about it at the start of the week, how we wouldn’t let emotion get the better of us this time. We came into this game knowing we were 100 percent confident – this was our time.”

General view of crowd during  the Super Rugby Pacific Final - Blues v Chiefs at Eden Park, Auckland - New Zealand   22  June  2024       Photo: Brett Phibbs / www.photosport.nz

The win came in front of a full Eden Park, with the crowd braving wet conditions all evening before the trophy was finally lifted by Blues skipper Patrick Tuipulotu.

Akira Ioane scored the first try of the game, before the brothers combined with a brilliant couple of offloads as they were falling into touch to send Caleb Clarke over for the first of his three tries.

The Blues led 20-3 at halftime and completely shut down the much-vaunted Chiefs forward pack.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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