The Benetton speedster on tattoos, travel troubles and topless guitar

Downtime with… Italy wing Monty Ioane

Do you have any nicknames? 

Monty is actually my nickname. My full name is Montanna. My dad was a big fan of the quarterback Joe Montana back in the day. He’s much more of a rugby fan but I guess the name stuck with him.

Are you an NFL fan? 

Not really. I like watching the running backs and the way they attack, but I don’t know the rules or anything. I used to do a bit of track and field but never really stuck to that.

I played a bit of what we would call soccer. I played a bit of Aussie Rules, too, but my kicking wasn’t so good! So I wouldn’t say I’m that sporty a person.

Who is your funniest team-mate? 

Iliesa Ratuva. He’s like a 12-year-old boy in a 30-year-old body. That’s one guy who never takes life too seriously. Even in a bad week. He’s that character every team needs.

Do you have any phobias? 

Definitely spiders, because I’m from Australia and they’re massive. I hate heights. And I also hate being alone in the house! I have to sleep with some sort of light on so I can see what’s going on because I’m always thinking that something is out there to get me!

What really bugs you?

People who eat with their mouth open. And people who touch my hair.

What can you tell us about your tattoos? 

Well, some of them are just gap-fillers, that I designed myself and that I really like. On my stomach is a really big one based around my religion.

On my left leg I’ve got two pictures of my daughters’ faces, as well as an image of them in front of Milan Cathedral. And then on my right leg I’ve got loads of portraits of a bunch of artists and celebrities that I really like. For example, I’ve got one of Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Elvis, Michael Jackson and Bruce Lee. Things like that.

Do you ever worry about them on artificial surfaces?

It’s funny you say that! On the weekend I grazed a bit of Elvis and got him covered up and patched up. I’ll have to see how it heals up and whether it has faded.

Do you have any guilty pleasures? 

I’m a huge chocolate man and I reckon I eat at least a block a day. That’s not a lie. It’s pretty bad! Cadbury hazelnut is my go-to. Even the boys say I’ve got a bad addiction! I had a problem when we were away for the November Tests; I stocked up on chocolate before I went – and I don’t mind sharing things – but every day my room-mate would ask for some.

If your house was on fire and everyone was safe, what would you rescue? 

My passport. I’m actually on my last warning for my passport in Australia. I lost one and within the space of a year I lost my emergency passport. They said if I lose a third one they most likely won’t give me another one. Because I’m eligible for a Fijian and Samoan passport, and they started to question me about the whole black market side. So I can’t afford to lose another one!

Would you want to become an Italian citizen? 

If I can, I 100% would. I’ve got another six years to go in Italy before I can try. But if I stay and get the opportunity, without doubt I’d take it.

If you could be any of your team-mates who would you be? 

It has to be Ratuva.  As a character he is absolutely amazing. Like, is there not a sad day in his life? I can’t say I’ve ever seen him sad and I want to know what goes on in his head.

Biggest waste of money? 

I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard of those pyramid schemes? Well, when I was very young

I did invest in the same company two times. I thought I’d give it a go and both times nothing came out of it. You hear about easy money… Yeah, there’s definitely a life lesson in there!

Who would be your three dream dinner party guests?

I’ve been asked this question before and I’d say: my father, Paul. Then the richest man in the world and the poorest man in the world! As for what we’d eat, how about some pizza?

Any hidden talents? 

I do love to play the guitar and sing a little bit. A couple of Italy’s islander boys will too.

What’s your crowd-pleaser with that?

I would take my shirt off!

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby? 

A big question. Probably just to provide a future for my family.

This article originally appeared in the March 2022 edition of Rugby World. 

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