Blues rookie Hoskins Sotutu had caught many eyes with his early season performances for the Auckland franchise before the season was abruptly stalled.
With the resumption of Super Rugby Aotearoa, Sotutu’s stock has skyrocketed following back-to-back five star performances against two Kiwi rivals as the Blues registered five away wins in a row and snapped a 9-year losing streak in Hamilton.
Sotutu was impressive against the Hurricanes, with dominant ball carrying powering his side to a home win. Against the Chiefs in Hamilton, Sotutu took it up a notch with a disruptive display at the line out and some incredible skill to put winger Mark Telea over in the corner.
Fijian international Nemani Nadolo led the praise on Twitter proclaiming the young loose forward will be an All Black, a view shared by many others.
Hoskin Sotutu.. future All black.. I’m afraid Fiji will miss out… He is a freak of a player and only 21 ??.
— nemzy (@nemani_nadolo) June 20, 2020
— Eddie McAteer (@eddie_mcateer) June 20, 2020
Hoskins Sotutu will be an All Black. #CHIvBLU
— Roland Rutihinda (@RoroRuti) June 20, 2020
Just as we think there’ll be no life after Keiran Reid for NZ…
— Gysbert van Zyl (@GysssaGys) June 20, 2020
— Oh lawd he comin (@StefanRautnbach) June 20, 2020
Hoskins Sotutu reeks of All Blacks material #CHIvBLU
— Stephen Foote (@Stephen_Foote_) June 20, 2020
Good win for the Blues. Tuipolutu and Hoskins with big performances. Barrett delivering in the crucial period after half-time. #CHIvBLU
— Jon Cardinelli (@jon_cardinelli) June 20, 2020
— Ross Barnett (@rbarnett08) June 20, 2020
Hoskins Sotutu is still only 21… #CHIvBLU
— Jonathan Bradley (@JBradleyBT) June 20, 2020
The Number 8 opened the scoring with a barge over try from close range in the first half as the Chiefs and Blues traded a number of penalties in the difficult conditions.
With the Blues nursing a short lead, Sotutu again came up with a big play, firing a expertly placed cutout pass into the arms of Mark Telea, who scored in the corner to seal the match.
Sotutu’s rise in 2020 has been rather out of the blue, having surprisingly taken over Akira Ioane’s starting spot who had been an established Super Rugby star.
His form has been so convincing the Blues have doubled-down on a power back row by including both in the starting lineup in Hamilton.
Earlier in the year, the 21-year-old explained to RugbyPass that his lack of game time last season may have come from his naturally relaxed persona which didn’t convince the coaches he was fully committed.
“Last year I was basically just training the whole time, I didn’t get much game time,” Sotutu told RugbyPass during New Zealand’s coronavirus lockdown period.
“As a person, I’m quite relaxed. At training, sometimes I might not look engaged,” said Sotutu.
“The coaches just said that if I’m not playing, they’ve gotta pick me off the way I train and if I don’t look engaged and it doesn’t seem like I’m working hard, they won’t pick me.
“This year, I tried to change it.”
Sotutu’s small change has definitely paid off and higher honours are looking more and more likely as each week goes by.
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