Fiji Sun - - SPORT - -Rugby Heaven

All Blacks hard­man Wayne ‘Buck’ Shelford has de­liv­ered his ver­dict on the can­di­dates to re­place Kieran Read.

And the for­mer All Blacks cap­tain said Blues’ Hoskins So­tutu who has been putting his hand up with some strong per­for­mances said the Fi­jian needs more time.

He sounded a dis­tinct note of cau­tion, warn­ing the 21-yearold was en­joy­ing a hon­ey­moon pe­riod that wouldn’t last. “So­tutu’s a good foot­baller, that’s for sure,” Shelford said. “He’s pow­er­ful,pretty quick and gets around the field, and gets in­volved in the game a lot.

“[But] we’re pretty good at putting guys in high places, and then they strug­gle with all the me­dia and they fall over.

“He’s good enough to go all the way, but he needs a cou­ple of good sea­sons with the Blues.

“He’s just the new boy on the block at the mo­ment, and once ev­ery­body gets to know how he plays, next year he’ll have quiet year.

Shelford said some of the skills the No. 8 needs are dif­fer­ent.

“Ev­ery time Richie McCaw went back there he looked out of sync. He wasn’t a No. 8,”he said.

In re­cent years, New Zealand has pro­duced a num­ber of ‘util­ity’ back row for­wards who can play No.6, No. 7, or No 8.

Ardie Savea re­mains the favourite to wear the No. 8 jersey for the All Blacks this year, although Shelford noted that in ad­di­tion to re­turn­ing from in­jury, the Hur­ri­canes flanker is now a marked man. “Even Ardie at the week­end,didn’t shine that much at all,” Shelford said. “I didn’t see much foot­ball out of him. He played quite well, but he didn’t play a big game of foot­ball.”

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