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After 18 tries in 18 Tests, All Blacks lock Rieko Ioane into long-term contract

The 21-year-old is already one of the best players in Test rugby.

ALL BLACKS STAR Rieko Ioane has signed a new contract with New Zealand Rugby [NZR], being rewarded for his sensational 18 tries in 18 Tests for the All Blacks with a lucrative four-year deal.

The 21-year-old wing has been joined in committing his services to the All Blacks and the Blues by his other brother Akira, 23, who has penned a three-year deal.

New Zealand South Africa Rugby Rieko Ioane has been a sensation for the All Blacks. Source: John Cowpland

Rieko has signed on with NZR until the end of the 2022 season, while back row Akira’s contract runs until the end of 2021.

Rieko is the current World Rugby breakthrough player of the year and has been one of the best players in Test rugby since his All Blacks debut in 2016.

Akira, 23, is yet to earn his first Test cap but played for the All Blacks against a French XV in Lyon last year.

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen said Akira was “an immense talent” and Reiko was already accomplished on the international stage.

“With his growing maturity and growth in his game understanding, I’m sure we’ll see his game go to even greater heights,” Hansen said.

The siblings’ contracts will see both remain with their hometown Super Rugby club Blues, who are based in Auckland.

Meanwhile, captain Kieran Read will miss the All Blacks’ upcoming Rugby Championship Test against Argentina.

Read, who had a back operation late last year and only returned to Test rugby in August, was omitted from the 32-man squad to travel to Buenos Aires for the September 29 fixture.

New Zealand South Africa Rugby Captain Read will miss the trip to Argentina. Source: John Cowpland

He will rejoin the team for the match against South Africa in Pretoria on October 6, when the All Blacks will be desperate to avenge last weekend’s shock loss to the Springboks in Wellington.

“We always had a plan to manage Kieran’s long-haul travel this year, following his return to rugby after back surgery,” Hansen said.

“So he’ll miss the trip to Argentina and rejoin the squad in South Africa.”

Hansen has called in Vaea Fifita to replace Read in the loose forwards against the Pumas.

Towering lock Brodie Retallick, who was sorely missed in the South Africa defeat, will miss both the Pumas and Springboks games as he recovers from a shoulder injury.

Dane Coles, Joe Moody and Liam Squire will also stay in New Zealand to continue injury rehabilitation programmes.

However, star centre Sonny Bill Williams was named in the squad after missing last weekend’s match with tonsilitis.

All Blacks squad for Argentina and South Africa:

Forwards: Liam Coltman, Nathan Harris, Codie Taylor, Owen Franks, Tim Perry, Angus Ta’avao, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi, Scott Barrett, Patrick Tuipulotu, Sam Whitelock, Sam Cane, Vaea Fifita (Pumas Test), Shannon Frizell, Jackson Hemopo, Kieran Read (Springboks Test), Ardie Savea, Luke Whitelock.

Backs: TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Beauden Barrett, Damian McKenzie, Richie Mo’unga, Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Jordie Barrett, Rieko Ioane, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Waisake Naholo, Ben Smith.

© AFP 2018

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