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All Blacks to test Digby's defence

By Jim Morton 04/08/2011 06:07:51 PM Comments (0)

The Wallabies have no fear strike weapon Digby Ioane will be exposed or his X-factor diminished by standing in as Quade Cooper's defensive stuntman.

The breakdancing winger will once again line up in the No.10 channel in the front line of defence when the Wallabies attempt to end their 25-year drought at Eden Park.

With playmaker Cooper a counter-attacking revelation for Queensland from fullback, Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has used the same strategy and chosen Ioane for the trickier and more onerous task of defending near the set pieces.

The tackle-shedding 26-year-old relished the challenge against South Africa, topping both the Australian tackle count and ball-carry list.

But it will be a more difficult assignment against a better equipped and craftier All Blacks side, who will run their back-rowers and centre Ma'a Nonu at him, not withstanding the questions Dan Carter can ask with his ball-playing.

New Zealand have obviously done their homework on Ioane and hinted his lack of experience defending in the 10-12 channel was an area they would attempt to exploit as Australia safeguards Cooper.

"It could be," coach Graham Henry said. "He would probably have to make different decisions there than on the wing.

"But Digby is a bloody good player and I love his breakdancing thrills at the end.

"(But) I don't want to see him dancing at all this weekend. He can save that for Durban (against South Africa next week)."

Deans said Ioane had a hunger for work and embraced the challenge while rejecting the view it might nullify his dangerous attacking game, shown by his effort to make the most tackle busts in Super Rugby.

"No, it gives him more access (to attack)," he said. "He topped the tackle count and the carry count in his last outing.

"He's a remarkable man."

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