It might not have been as productive in tries as he would have liked, but 2012 will still be remembered by DIGBY IOANE (pronounced ‘Yerwanee’) as his busiest yet in the Qantas Wallabies.The 27-year-old winger only missed two of the 15 Tests played by Australia, making it just the second occasion in his six-year career to date that his appearance tally had reached double figures. Promisingly, Ioane has played 23 of his 34 Tests in the last two seasons, finally achieving a continuity of availability that had been elusive in the years prior.The main reason for that is injury, with which the Kiwi-born winger of Samoan background has been dogged since his Test debut against Wales in 2007. Encouragingly, the frustrating run has failed to deter, with Ioane announcing that he had turned down big money to re-sign with Australian Rugby shortly after winning the man-of-the-match award in Australia’s 24-18 win over Wales which closed the 2011 Test season.As is the way in the era of modern communication tools and social media, Ioane tweeted the news from the dressing room at the Millennium Stadium, which was warmly greeted by Australian Rugby supporters everywhere. This includes Qantas Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, with whom Ioane has formed a close relationship. Deans included Ioane on the 2008 Spring Tour despite a season ruined by injury, and kept the faith in 2009, when injury had again intervened to rub the Queensland winger out of the domestic Tests.Ioane was tried at centre on that tour, but reverted back to the wing in 2010, only lasting three Tests before a dislocated shoulder closed his year. Injury again interfered during his maiden Rugby World Cup in 2011. Ioane had just posted his fourth Test try of that year during Australia’s 32-6 win over Italy in the tournament opener at North Harbour, only to discover after the game that he had broken his thumb, which ruled him out for the rest of the Pool phase of the competition.Although Ioane still boasts relatives in New Zealand, with his forceful cousin TJ Ioane having played on the flank for Otago in the NPC, the core of his family live in Dandenong, just outside of Melbourne. That hasn’t ensured a move to the Melbourne Rebels, however, with Ioane remaining committed to the Queensland Reds after influential roles in the last four seasons where he ranked as one of the leading line-breakers in Super Rugby.The form displayed by Ioane was a key feature of the Reds’ resurgence, which culminated in 2011’s maiden Super Rugby title, where Ioane scored a try to help Queensland home in the championship decider against the Crusaders.Ioane has appeared for both the Reds and the Western Force in Super Rugby, starting out with the Force as a member of the Perth club’s foundation team, having been lured across the country following a successful career in the Australian Under-19 and Under-21 teams.Ioane made his state debut for Queensland in 2005, but his Super Rugby debut came in the Force’s maiden match against the Brumbies, during a three-year stint in the west, from which he first made the Wallabies in 2007. He rejoined the Reds at the start of the 2008 season.Fast Fact: While he has been a Wallaby since 2007, such has been the impact of injury on the Digby Ioane Test career, that the 2011 tournament opener was his first experience of the Tri Nations, despite having played Tests for Australia in each of the preceding four years. Ioane celebrated the occasion by scoring a try in the Qantas Wallabies’ commanding 39-20 win over South Africa. His first participation in the annual tournament ended with Australia’s first title for a decade.
20 JUNE 2013
19 JUNE 2013