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Ioane ready to push on to 15s stardom

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/12/2016 Angelo Risso
Rieko Ioane of the All Blacks. © Getty Images Rieko Ioane of the All Blacks.

Rieko Ioane may be the All Blacks Sevens' player of 2016 but the livewire says he's ready to give the game a break for a little while.

Ioane, 19, bagged the seven-a-side gong in Auckland on Thursday for his Olympic exploits with the All Blacks Sevens in Rio.

Scoring tries against France and Argentina, the Blues gun was a bright spot in an ultimately disappointing campaign for the men's side, who finished fifth.

But with an Olympics appearance ticked off the bucket list, Ioane intends to focus his energies on establishing himself as a bona fide Test player in 2017.

A breakout provincial campaign with Auckland, scoring 10 tries in nine games, led to a maiden All Blacks call-up and appearances against Italy and France.

He also played for New Zealand Maori in their match against USA in Chicago.

Ioane hoped for more of the same in the 15-a-side game next year, with the British and Irish Lions coming to town.

"I'll give Sevens a rest for now and see what happens with 15-a-side, I want to give the 15s a real good crack," Ioane said.

"Making the All Blacks again, getting some good game time with the Blues and winning a championship, it's what we all want."

Despite moving on from the seven-a-side format, Ioane credited the code with developing his razzle-dazzle playing style at midfield or winger.

Departed Sevens boss Sir Gordon Tietjens had honed his attacking game, before All Blacks assistant Wayne Smith fine-tuned his defensive nous on tour.

"Hopefully I can take that learning and go on to a good 15s season," Ioane said.

"I need to have a good pre-season, relax, refresh and kick on to a strong 2017."

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