Mark Ioane’s had a pretty good couple of weeks. The 26 year old prop signed a two year contract extension with the Broncos, put in an incredible performance at Summer Bash the next day (in a huge 42-16 victory over Featherstone Rovers), which, on Sunday, was followed up with another critical top four defeat of Halifax.
We caught up with the New Zealand native for his thoughts.
You’ve just signed a new contract – what was it that made London your first choice?
“It was just the enjoyment I have had over the past year, year and a half really. Life away from footy with my partner [Serah] is great, and we’re enjoying ourselves in such a great city. Everyone at the club has been a great help to us and made us both feel so welcome here that it was an easy decision to make.”
What was life like before coming to the London Broncos?
“It was good to be honest. I was a part of the NRL system in Australia. I was with Gold Coast and St George Illawarra and I really enjoyed my time within that playing environment. I just felt that I needed a change and London Broncos gave me that opportunity to change. They gave me a chance to play in a different league and hopefully I have now adapted to it.”
Playing in the NRL, did Andrew Henderson have a big part to play in your choice of team?
“Yes definitely. We talked about where he wanted to get the club, which is into Super League. We talked about the prospects of getting the right players here and the fact that he wanted a team emphasis on improving week on week. I certainly think we have done that too, over the past year and a half and we are moving forward to something very special with this squad.”
Sky Sports thought you were great at Summer Bash, but how did it go for you personally?
“It was alright! I thought it was my teammates that got us going, and without the team I wouldn’t be playing decent footy. I just want to give credit to them leading us around the park. The likes of Jarrod Sammut and Will Barthau leading us from the halves, and just everyone doing their part – I think I was just doing my job too out there.”
The Broncos have produced a lot of players throughout the leagues. Do you think moving forward London can have a big effect on Rugby League in this country?
“Absolutely. I think it’s really important that there is a rugby league team here in London and there should be a lot more teams in London too. There is a massive opportunity in such a massive city to encourage the youth community in to the game. I think it’s a huge credit to London Broncos and the scholarship and academy programmes for bringing so many home grown players out there. We just need to make sure that the word of rugby league continues to be put out there and we get more young people involved in the game.”
What kind of things do you like to do when you’re not playing rugby?
“Well, my partner and I love travelling so we’ve tried to get to a few European countries on the few days off we get which are not many. I think we only get three or four weeks off in the year so we have been to a few countries like Holland, France and Switzerland. I loving doing that, and seeing new places and I’m looking forward to seeing many more.”
We have four (regular season) home games left this season – what’s the mood in the camp?
“Positive. It’s a good, positive feeling and now everyone is becoming more confident in their own ability in the team. The biggest thing is that we are actually playing as a team now, and believing more. I think in the past two months we’ve shown that when the going gets tough, we can tough it out and work hard for results, compete with the best and beat the best too.
“It’s important for us to keep doing the little things right because the competition is so much harder this year and a lot more competitive, so making sure we play to the best of our ability each week is the most important thing.”
We’ve had our fair share of injuries this season, but most bodies are coming back now. Do you think the competition for places is also a good thing at this stage in the season?
“Definitely. I think we have a lot more depth to the squad than we did last year. That’s all down to some clever recruitment in the off season and all credit to the club for that. The seventeen that’s picked each week just have to do their jobs – if the coach has the confidence in us, then we have to return the compliment with a great performance and perform to the best of our ability, as they there is always someone just as good waiting to take your spot.”
What does it mean to pull on a Broncos jersey each week?
“It means everything. I’m proud to wear the jersey to be honest. It’s part of my life, and it’s the way I earn my living. To be able to live on the other side of the world and do something that I love is an honour. I’m here without any family, so the Broncos have become my family. I have my partner who is a huge support to me and is always there encouraging me to do my best. I just need to continue to grind it out and show that passion I have for the team.”
What’s your message to the fans moving forward?
“Please just keep supporting us. As a player I am grateful for them being there every week and we want the fans to have our backs. When we go through the rough times, it’s the fans that pick us up, and so we fight for them in return. We’re doing our best to get promoted and they’re a part of that journey.”