SOTUTU NEEDS TIME:SHELFORD
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.”