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NZ debutants vs Italy can't stop grinning

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 12/11/2016 Angelo Risso

Liam Coltman of the All Blacks during the international rugby match against Italy at Stadio Olimpico on November 12, 2016 in Rome, Italy. © Phil Walter/Getty Images Liam Coltman of the All Blacks during the international rugby match against Italy at Stadio Olimpico on November 12, 2016 in Rome, Italy. Highlanders rake Liam Coltman's smile stretched from ear to ear on Saturday night after making his Test debut in the All Blacks' win over Italy.

Coltman, 26, entered the fray for the last 15 minutes of his side's 68-10 thumping of Gli Azzurri in Rome, producing three successful lineouts as the Kiwis coasted to victory.

He told reporters after the Test he was still pinching himself after waiting in the wings for much of this year's Rugby Championship tilt.

The speed of the game took him by surprise, but the experience was an enjoyable one.

"I've always wanted to be here and have it finally come true and happen, it's actually awesome," the versatile front-rower said.

"This smile won't be coming off my face for a while."

Yet the hooker was not the only All Black to earn his maiden cap, with prodigious utility back Rieko Ioane scoring a try on debut at Stadio Olimpico.

The 19-year-old Blues gun was injected in the 49th minute as the Italian defence tired, and got his due reward when he crashed over eight minutes from time.

"You always want to score, you always want to make your debut as an All Black so to do both in one game is pretty awesome and special," Ioane said.

"I was saying to the boys I couldn't wait to get out there and just soak it up so scoring a try as well, I'm pretty happy, I was so nervous."

Considered one of the hottest prospects in Kiwi rugby, Ioane was a stand-out in this year's provincial championship, scoring 10 tries in nine games and running defences ragged.

He showed glimpses of that potential on the Test stage in Rome, nabbing a line break as well as his try, but admitted he had plenty more to learn.

"I'm just happy Steve and the management have given me the opportunity and I'll just keep working and hoping for more to come," Ioane said.

"Just back to training Monday and if I get game time, then I do, but I'll just help the team where I can to get in a good space against Ireland."

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