All Blacks centre Anton Lienert-Brown is backing teammate Rieko Ioane to shake off his first Test mistakes if he lines up against the Wallabies on Sunday.
Lienert-Brown says teammate Rieko Ioane won’t “go into his shell” after a rather embarrassing debut at No.13 in the first Bledisloe Cup Test in Wellington last Sunday.
Ioane has long asked to be given a chance at centre after playing all his previous Test rugby on the wing.
A good Super Rugby Aotearoa season in the No. 13 jersey for the Blues resulted in a chance to frank that form with the All Blacks.
To say Ioane blew his chance is a little unfair – but he didn’t have the game of his dreams.
He got away with a foot in touch in the lead-up to the All Blacks’ first try and then his flamboyantly reckless try-scoring attempt on the stroke of halftime saw him lose control of the ball with no defender anywhere near him.
Even though the All Blacks scored shortly after the resumption, Ioane’s sloppiness proved costly in the context of a tight game that ended in a 16-16 draw.
He was also caught out defensively when Australia scored their first try through Marika Koroibete.
Lienert-Brown backed Ioane him to shake off the first Test mistakes if got another chance on Sunday at Eden Park.
“With Reeks, there were a couple things there he that could have improved but we all know the huge talent he possesses, and the character he has means he will learn from those occasions and won’t go into his shell,” he said.
“For the most part he did his role well but it’s going to be overshadowed by one that moment – but I know he’ll hit back hard.”
Lienert-Brown felt the All Blacks would be better prepared mentally for the second Test.
Lienert-Brown played under Wallabies coach Dave Rennie at the Chiefs and said the All Blacks were aware they would be in for a physically-demanding clash.
“I was coached under Renns for four or five years and we knew that he was going to have big, physical, niggly men around the field and that’s what they did,” he said.
“The most disappointing thing is that while we talked about it, we didn’t match their intent and physicality.
“That’s been sitting in our belly and it’s something we have to get right.
“It doesn’t take talent to fix – it’s upstairs, you have to be switched on mentally and you can feel it this week that we’ve got plenty of that.”
Both New Zealand and Australia are set to name their teams on Friday.