Sotutu made just one appearance for the Blues last year and with so many experienced loose forwards in the wider squad, few would have expected the blockbusting number 8 to have accrued so many minutes for his franchise this season.
The son of former Fijian flyer Waisake Sotutu looks destined to take the step up to international football but it recently emerged that the loose forward is eligible for Fiji and England as well as his native New Zealand. Rumours from The Telegraph suggested that Eddie Jones, head coach of England, was considering making a daring play for Sotutu’s allegiance but the latest news out of NZ suggests that the Blues man won’t be going anywhere.
Blues head coach Leon MacDonald also indicated when questioned whether his club were willing to let Sotutu go that the loose forward is enjoying his time with the franchise and is in it for the long haul.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 20, 2020
“No way. We see him as a lifetime Blues player,” MacDonald said. “He’s passionate about this region and we don’t want that to change.
“I can see why there’s interest all over the place. I’d want him in my team if I was coach and luckily we do have him. I can understand why he’s causing the fuss because he’s playing great.”
The Blues are well-stocked in the loose forwards with Tom Robinson, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii, Blake Gibson and Tony Lamborn sharing minutes this season while Sotutu has been a mainstay in the match-day trio.
Sotutu’s diverse skill-set has had many calling for the 21-year-old to be quickly elevated into the national set-up, given that former captain Kieran Read has now vacated the spot at the back of the All Blacks scrum.
“He’s created a bit of fuss because of the way he’s played,” said MacDonald. “He’s got a unique skillset because it’s so well-rounded. He can kick the ball, and chuck missed passes, yet get physical and carry hard and offload and make the hits defensively.
“He’s got a really good all-round game. And he doesn’t really have any quiet spots in a game. He’ll work right through. It makes him a pretty imposing threat.”
Sotutu has previously spoken about the areas of the game he’s focusing his development on – namely his work at the breakdown and on defence.
“I’ve been working on my jackal and stuff around the breakdown a lot,” he told RugbyPass. “The coaches have tried to help me out a lot around that. That’s sort of the area that I need to work on the most.
“Also, I’m working on trying to turn my defence into a bit of a turning point as well. Trying to be that enforcer dude as well – at both ends of the ball.”
While his on-field performances have been evident for all fans and punters to witness, it’s Sotutu’s off-field work that’s especially impressed MacDonald.
“We’re thrilled with Hos,” MacDonald said. “He’s grown up off the field as much as he has performed on it. He speaks up after meetings and seems really comfortable in his own skin at the moment.
“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.”
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