NZ Rugby World

ENGLAND AND FIJI EYE HOSKINS SOTUTU

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Hoskins Sotutu has been the talk of the town since Super Rugby kicked off in February and again in June.

The Blues No 8 has thrust himself into contention to replace Kieran Read at the back of the All Blacks scrum after a series of compelling performanc­es where he has shown ball carrying prowess, defensive crunch, distributi­on and lineout skills as well as an impressive work-rate.

He looks to be the best specialist No 8 in the country and many are tipping him to be selected by new All Blacks coach Ian Foster this year.

If the All Blacks are indeed interested then they will have to move quickly as Sotutu is also qualified for Fiji and England and both have signalled their interest.

Sotutu qualifies for Fiji through his father Waisake who played at the 1999 World Cup. Fiji coach Vern Cotter has already noted his interest in Sotutu, who represente­d

New Zealand Schools and New Zealand Under 20 at the 2018 Junior World Championsh­ips.

The wildcard, though, is England, who he qualifies for through his mother. England coach Eddie Jones has a track record of plucking players from Super Rugby having selected Blues inside back Piers Francis and Hurricanes captain Brad Shields.

His interest in Sotutu has been reported by The Telegraph in the UK, who say Jones is in the market for an athletic, dynamic No 8 having decided the more powerful Billy Vunipola is no longer the right sort of player.

“We've decided to go for a different way of playing at No 8, without Billy. And that's a judgement call,” Jones said before the start of the Six nations in February.

“You are always looking at a balance between your 4/5/6/7/8, a balance between ball-running capabiliti­es, defensive capabiliti­es, work-rate capabiliti­es. We've got a view of how we can be most effective in that area without a Billy-type player.”

 ??  ?? ALL ROUNDER Hoskins Sotutu can play with and without the ball.
ALL ROUNDER Hoskins Sotutu can play with and without the ball.

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