Digby wants to be ‘Lord of the Wing’

Fit-again finisher Digby Ioane is itching to rank himself against the Lords of the Wing who have taken over this World Cup with a destiny-changing try of his own in Sunday’s cut-throat quarter final against South Africa.

The Wallaby with the wings of an angel tattooed across his muscular back has watched more highlights of other wingers scoring tries in the 40 pool games than any frustrated footballer should have to, because of three long weeks repairing a fractured thumb.

The impact of the tournament’s top wingers has been immense.

Showy Englishman Chris Ashton sent Scotland tumbling out of the World Cup with his late match-winner in Auckland last weekend to keep him on top of the World Cup’s try list with six, just two short of Jonah Lomu’s tournament record set in 1999.

Argentine winger Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino stepped by four Scots to steal a 13-12 result a week earlier. Richard Kahui has been top notch for the All Blacks but the winger’s name on Ioane’s tongue, like many other good judges, is a 105kg Welshman of just 19.

“There are so many good wingers playing and scoring tries. That George North fromWales. . . good footwork, size, awesome player,” Ioane said.

“I just want to get back out there. You want to rank yourself against the best in the world.”

Ioane’s single match at the World Cup produced a fine, veering gem against Italybut it is a telling dash against the Springboks that will put his name up in lights.

Ioane hasn’t just left it to luck to be fit again. He admitted yesterday to organising extra fitness sessions with halfback Will Genia.

“Secret training we call it. Coming back sharp (after an injury) all comes down to training because you can have no excuses on game day,” Ioane said.

“You don’t want to be going home empty-handed.”

A squeeze ball to rebuild grip strength is constantly in his right palm. He will be deployed in the five-eighth channel as a key defender on Sunday but admitted he would be largely rested from tackling at training this week to “save it all for Sunday.”

Those who did a double-take inBrisbanelast Saturday night and thought they spied Ioane weren’t mad. He returned toBrisbaneto be best man at older brother Jason’s wedding.

He teed up the rare leave pass before the World Cup with coach Robbie Deans and when he returned to ballwork at training last week and knew that the rehab on his thumb was on target, he kept the date.

Cousin Ole Avei, a reserve forward for Samoa at the Cup, made it to the wedding as well and passed on obvious yet timely advice on how to beat the South Africans after the abrasive islanders fell just short themselves at 13-5.

“You’ve just got to man up. The Samoans played awesome but lost. There can be only one winner on the day and that will come down to mental toughness,” Ioane said.

And big defence. And just maybe a searing Ioane run in midfield off a Quade Cooper pass so he’s back in the chat with the Ashtons and Norths of this tournament.

by Buford Balony


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