Emotional scenes as the Blues celebrate All Black Akira Ioane's 100th game
By Rugby Onslaught

Emotional scenes as the Blues celebrate All Black Akira Ioane’s 100th game

Not many players get as impressive a reception on making 100 appearances as Blues flanker Akira Ioane did on Saturday.

Despite losing to the Crusaders 15-3 at Orangetheory Stadium in Super Rugby Pacific, the 27-year-old addressed the crowd after the match in an emotional speech.

He said: “I’d just like to thank the boys, obviously. I love this club and I love being part of a great team. Pity we couldn’t get it done tonight but that’s the way rugby is. To my family, thank you very much for everything that you’ve done for me, sacrificed, and you continue to make me a better man every day. Thank you.”

Watch his speech here:

Things went up a notch from there after that, as his teammates performed an intense haka in the changing room, led by his brother, Rieko. Akira actually joined in as well, which led to some pretty epic scenes.

Take a look:

Blues head coach Leon MacDonald addressed this milestone by the 21-cap All Black ahead of the clash with the reigning Super Rugby champions.

“I want to congratulate Aki on reaching his 100-game milestone – a serious achievement and testament to the fact he’s kept his fitness and body in good order over many seasons,” he said.

“He showed his value last weekend against Moana Pasifika and we’ll be looking to him for impact down in Christchurch. His ball playing skills are well-documented and he often finds an offload where others can’t.”

Ioane came off the bench to achieve the feat, although it was part of a losing cause. The loss leaves the Blues in fifth place in the league, ahead of the final three games of the season against the Reds, the Hurricanes and the Highlanders, where they will be hoping to secure a top four position in the table.