Ioane to mark Tuqiri in Super 14 battle - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ioane to mark Tuqiri in Super 14 battle

By Jim Morton 04/03/2009 05:18:22 PM Comments (0)

Digby Ioane rates Lote Tuqiri as "the big dog", but the big dog might come to regret sharing his tricks with the powerful pup snapping at his heels on Friday night.

Queenslander Ioane has been pitchforked into a blockbusting battle with Tuqiri in Super 14's interstate grudge match, five months after being mentored by the NSW superstar on the Wallabies' 2008 spring tour.

Reds coach Phil Mooney on Wednesday recalled centre Charlie Fetoai from a shoulder injury, forcing Ioane to revert to the right wing and mark his childhood idol for the first time.

Tuqiri was recovering from injury for the bulk of the tour to Hong Kong and Europe and spent more time advising the dynamic 23-year-old Test rookie than playing.

Ioane certainly listened and learned, impressing in two Tests and a start against the Barbarians - form which he's carried over to be the most destructive back in this season's Super 14.

"Tuqiri was awesome, he took me under his wing," a grateful Ioane said on Wednesday.

"He helped me throughout the spring tour a lot and it will be a real challenge to play against him.

"That's why I have a lot of respect for him; when he's not playing he helps other people.

"He's been inspiring and a good leader helping you to know what your role is.

"Back in school, he was one of my idols when he played for the Broncos. To play against him is a big thing for me. He's the big dog."

But there's no way the tackle-shedding Ioane - who gives away 9cm in height and 9kg in weight - will be intimidated by the 191cm, 103kg veteran of 67 Tests.

Having marked the likes of Springbok Bryan Habana and All Black Joe Rokocoko, Ioane is keen to test his speed, strength and agility against Australia's best winger.

"That's the most exciting thing about it, challenging yourself, and Tuqiri is one of the world's best," he said.

Mooney's slight backline reshuffle was in part reward for the hard-tackling Fetoai, as much as the impact Ioane can make as a roving winger - highlighted by his stand-out display in the season-opener against the Bulls.

"Digby was also very devastating first game on the wing," Mooney said.

"He's got that roving commission and more flexibility on the wing.

"Digby has shown he's grown enormously over the last 12 months both for the Reds and the Wallabies so I think he'll be a threat to the Waratahs for sure."

Fellow Wallabies winger Peter Hynes believes Ioane will provide more of a headache to the Waratahs defence from out wide and on kick returns than "stuck" in the midfield.

Hynes is one of just three Reds - including veteran forwards Sean Hardman and Van Humphries - to have tasted victory against NSW, with the last win coming in 2004 when he scored a try marking Tuqiri.

While the Reds know they must more consistently lift for each opponent, Mooney said the interstate rivalry naturally evokes most feeling for Queenslanders.

"Even when I see that we beat (NSW) in bowls it puts a spring in my step for the rest of the day," he said.

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