Josh Ioane had a strong start in the Super Rugby campaign but had a good fight against the hurricanes in Wellington.
Damian McKenzie's season-ending injury put the spotlight on every No. 10 in New Zealand, but Aaron Mauger says his first five Josh Ioane are not yet ready for the All Blacks.
"He's still a young man learning his trade at this level, so there's still a way to go for Joshy," Mauger said on Thursday.
"So I think it's important to you [the media] Do not talk to him too much because he is still learning.
"Yeah, he's doing some good things, but you guys are good at bringing guys up to a point and then cutting them when they do not arrest him, which was the case after a few rounds at the beginning."
CONSULT MORE INFORMATION:
* Rugby World Cup: Why Ryan Crotty is the best of the All Blacks, and Sonny Bill Williams is very old-fashioned
* Super Rugby: Aaron Smith named on the Highlanders bench for the game of Blues Crunch
* Super Rugby: Aaron Smith about to return to the Highlanders against the Blues
* Super Rugby: Highlanders back No. 10 Josh Ioane following the hurricane speed bump
Ioane was voted No. 10 in the Highlanders game against the Blues on Saturday, and as long as Mauger prefers Ioane to develop without further scrutiny, New Zealand audiences will make sure there is virtually no chance of that happening. .
All five-eighths are now being measured for their suitability to the All Blacks, following McKenzie's bad luck and Ioane and Otere Black's duel in Dunedin is an intriguing subplot of an already crucial game.
Under normal circumstances, Ioane's name would not be in the All Blacks' talk because he still has to actually have his part in the Highlanders after Lima Sopoaga left for the UK.
However, Brett Cameron was crowned for the All Blacks last year due to not much more than a decent campaign of the Miter 10 Cup and now there is clearly a difference between Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo & un39 and the next level of candidates .
Despite his attempts to take the heat out of 23-year-old Otago, Mauger remains a big fan of Ioane.
"Josh has a real spark in his game," said Mauger.
The Blues No 8 Akira Ioane was part of the All Blacks' founding day earlier this week.
"He's tough, he's brave, he's learning how to deal with setbacks in the field, how to deal with it and get to the next moment.
"That's probably a great job of him. He's a tough kid.
"He wants to be in those great moments and is embracing the challenges that all No 10s face in running their team across the field."
Ioane's challenge now is to block the noise of the All Blacks and get some consistency in their game.
His acceleration is excellent and his passing game is strong while he has dealt bravely with any heavy traffic that has passed through his channel.
What distinguishes Barrett and Mo? Unga, however, is to quickly go through their mistakes.
Neither is immune to making mistakes, but both have shown the ability to release them and move on, whether in the game or the following week.
But Mauger said Ioane was in a good spot in the Highlanders to make sure that it did.
"He has a fantastic leadership group, supporting him as well and really supporting him," Mauger said.
"We've seen a lot of growth in their game.
"Look, we support him to get the job done, so that's why it starts for us and we're excited about what he's going to do on Saturday night."