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‘Lit a fire’: Dropped All Black Hoskins Sotutu’s secret to stunning form

By Finn Morton
Hoskins Sotutu looks on for the Blues. Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

14-Test All Black Hoskins Sotutu has returned to the Blues in Super Rugby Pacific with a vengeance this season after missing out on representative honours last year.

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Sotutu, 25, shot out of the blocks with a headline-grabbing start across the opening two rounds after crossing for a competition-high five tries against the Fijian Drua and Highlanders.

The Blues backrower made sure to send a message to the “doubters” after his hat-trick against the Highlanders in Melbourne with a cold Instagram caption on a March 2nd post.

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A post shared by Hoskins Sotutu (@hoskinssotutu)

“They want reasons to H8. Here are 3 more,” he wrote. After falling out of favour with All Blacks selectors in a Rugby World Cup year, Sotutu has come back in career-best form.

“Obviously there’s a few doubters out there so it’s a bit of personality, I guess,” Sotutu told RugbyPass after being asked about the Instagram caption.

“There’s nothing really pinpointing it but obviously I’ve seen a few negative comments that come my way and I hear stuff in the background.

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“It’s giving them a reason to keep having it they want to hate.”

Sotutu, who is a product of Sacred Heart College in Auckland, hasn’t worn the All Blacks’ iconic jersey in a Test match during New Zealand’s draw with England in November 2022.

During that period, All Blacks and Hurricanes halfback TJ Perenara ruptured his Achilles, went more than 450 days without playing a game, and returned to Super Rugby Pacific.

Blues enforcer Sotutu wasn’t just overlooked for All Blacks selection under former coach Ian Foster, but the backrower also missed out on the All Blacks XV squad in 2023.

“It definitely has lit a fire,” Sotutu said.

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“It’s not about making any teams it’s about proving to myself and proving to everyone else that I’m still a good player. Just that really.

“There’s just a bit of motivation,” he added.

“I definitely wanted to come in and start strong. I don’t want to come in off the back of maybe an average end to Super last year to be on that downward sort of thing.

“It’s a hard thing as well to start strong and then you’ve got to hold it up through the season but you’d rather that than build into it.”

The feedback that Sotutu received from All Blacks selectors last year was around his “strong” start to the season before his form dropped off.

But that disappointment is “just a stepping stone forward” as Sotutu looks to become the best version of himself, without necessarily focusing on whether he goes on to make the All Blacks.

As Sotutu explained: “There’s always sort of a reason why. It’s always one person’s opinion.”

“Just coming in this year, I’m coming off contract this year so it could possibly be my last season with the Blues.

“I know I want to put my all into this season with the Blues and really just make sure that I’m at the top of my game so we’re hopefully holding up the trophy at the end of the season.

“I’m speaking up more, helping out other players… if I’m just trying to find myself into better positions on the field to get my hands on the ball or get the ball back.”

Sotutu came off the bench during the Blues’ first loss of the Super Rugby Pacific season down in the nation’s capital against the Hurricanes.

The Blues will shift their focus to an intriguing Round Four clash away to the NSW Waratahs at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium. NSW were beaten in quite heartbreaking circumstances by New Zealand side the Highlanders at the very same venue on Friday night.

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Comments

2 Comments
N
Nickers 102 days ago

Immature postering and deep insecurities on show. The exact downward spiral Laumape followed - doing it all for “the haters” on social media. He needs to grow up if he thinks this will help him get selected for the ABs. He did not play well last year, and was not selected. He should do his talking on the field.

J
Jasyn 102 days ago

Sounds like he’s got a chip on his shoulder about it, and throws in the ‘off contract’ thing out there as well to subtly suggest if you don’t pick me I might leave (a very nrl player tactic).

Well unlike white or Maori Kiwis, he can always almost instantly throw his lot in with an island nation because ‘heritage’, although frankly Fiji have enough talent that he probably wouldn't make their side either.

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