England coach Eddie Jones is reportedly keen on swooping in on Hoskins Sotutu, one of Super Rugby Aotearoa’s breakout stars, after the Blues No 8 revealed he qualifies to play for England via his mother.
Sotutu – who also qualifies for Fiji through his father, former Fiji and Blues player Waisake Sotutu – has been groomed as a future All Blacks star after a series of dominant performances in the Blues’ unbeaten start to the season.
New Fiji coach Vern Cotter is reportedly hopeful of luring Sotutu but now England have come knocking as well, according to The Telegraph.
Jones is no stranger to recruiting players from Kiwi Super Rugby, having selected Piers Francis while he was at the Blues in 2017 and former Hurricane Brad Shields.
Born and raised in New Zealand, the 21-year-old Sotutu admits he will probably have to make a decision about his future soon.
“Whatever is next will come,” Sotutu told the New Zealand Herald last week. “I’ve got my dad’s Fijian heritage and that Kiwi side and my mum is English as well so I can qualify for an English passport.
“When the decision comes it will come easy but for the moment I’m just focusing on the Blues.
“I’m still learning. I’m taking this as my debut season and trying to find my feet and keep working on my craft.”
To qualify for England, Sotutu would have to move to the Premiership, where there are several clubs interested in his services, reports The Telegraph.
Sotutu, who played most of his life in the backs, appears to be exactly the type of No 8 Jones is looking for at England, having already experimented with selections during the Six Nations.
“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 championship.
“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 of which could lead to a fascinating tug of war, with All Blacks coach Ian Foster likely to try and move quickly to secure Sotutu’s services when international tests end up returning.
Sotutu has represented the New Zealand Secondary Schools side and the New Zealand Under-20s team.
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