Ioane settles quickly in Highlanders' role

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Lynn McConnell     20 Feb 2019     Getty Images

While Stewart is barely out of his teens he has made 18 appearances for the Reds compared to only two games by Ioane for the Highlanders.

Both are seen as crucial to the future development of their sides.

Ioane said his first start at first five-eighths in Hamilton in last week's opening game had been an enjoyable experience and all the better for the Highlanders being able to claim a win.

"It was pretty fast. I was feeling tired and I looked at the clock and we were only 17 minutes in but luckily I got my second wind," he said.

During the game he had been focused on doing his role, not attempting too much and sticking to contributing to the team effort.

There had been an extra bonus in having his Auckland-based family able to attend the game in Hamilton.

Looking ahead to the Reds challenge on Friday there was plenty to work on, especially in terms of game-driving.

"We made a few errors and missed a few opportunities so we're going to look and try to fix that up for this weekend," he said.

Goal-kicking had worked out well and it was reward for the work he had been putting in.

All the travel involved with playing had caused his progress towards a Commerce degree being slower than usual but he was working on a paper at a time and there were occasions when he could sit down and get into his books.

The Reds were going to be tough and games between the two always seemed to be close contests.

"So this week we're going to get into our homework and focus on our game and we're looking forward to playing in the stadium this week," he said.

Ioane said he enjoyed playing at Forsyth Barr Stadium and with the home crowd support, especially from the university students during Orientation Week, there was a real buzz among the players about playing in front of them this weekend.

Ioane said being in the students' end of the stadium, known as The Zoo, was his first experience of the ground during his first year at University in 2014 when the Highlanders played the Blues.