The Dominion Post
Sotutu switches to Counties
The cleanout at Auckland rugby has begun, with All Blacks No 8 Hoskins Sotutu confirming his move to Counties Manukau for the NPC.
With speculation rife of player dissatisfaction among Alama Ieremia’s Auckland squad, Sotutu’s decision to change his provincial base is an interesting one. Recent reports have suggested he may not be alone in cutting his ties with the big-city union.
Counties confirmed on Tuesday they had signed the 22-year-old Blues standout who made his All Blacks debut last year when he came off the bench against Australia in the first Bledisloe Cup test.
Sotutu’s father Waisake attended Wesley College and played one game for Counties Manukau while still at school, before going on to launch a sixyear career with Auckland and play the first season of Super Rugby with the Blues in 1996.
Sotutu will link with Blues and All Blacks team-mates Dalton Papali’i and Nepo Laulala at Counties Manukau – though none are likely to feature in many, or any, games for the union because of their national commitments.
‘‘I’m very excited to join Counties Manukau,’’ Sotutu said. ‘‘Dad got his start in rugby in the region and has played for the Steelers. I also live in south Auckland and have a number of connections to Counties Manukau.
‘‘I’m excited to be joining an organisation with such a passionate rugby community and I hope to develop my leadership and grow as a player at the Steelers.’’
Sotutu is close friends with prop Ezekiel Lindemuth and fellow loose forward Papali’i and will join a squad that already boasts impressive back-row stocks, including the likes of Viliami Taulani (Chiefs), Pukekohe captain Sam Slade and 2020 standout Alamanda Motuga.