Rieko Ioane will on Saturday, kick start his professional international rugby career for New Zealand at the age of 20 as he begins a test for the first time.
Ioane, who was named ahead of 53-test veteran Julian Savea, will feature on the left in the lineup of the All Blacks.
The player, who has already featured twice before against the Lions, for the Auckland-based Blues as well as the New Zealand Maori, is rapidly rising from schoolboy star to an important starter in the All Blacks squad.
At the young age of 17, he was called up in a New Zealand team where he featured in the World Rugby Series.
His debut against Italy last year, made him become the eight-youngest player to play a test for the All Blacks at the age of 19 years, 239 days.
Ioane who spoke about the call-up noted that it had been his dream since he was a young chap to start in the black jersey.
“I’ve been aiming for a start in the black jersey ever since I was a young fella,” Ioane said.
“Once I made the squad my goals actually started to change a bit with the first start probably being the big one. To get my start against the Lions it’s awesome, it’s a dream come true.” He added.
The player also noted that his call-up shows the hard work and sacrifices made by his family to get him to where he is now, and it’s left for him to go and do what needs to be done on Saturday.
He hails from a strong rugby family. His father, Eddie played test rugby for Samoa while his mother Sandra was a player for the New Zealand women’s team.