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The All Black set to benefit the most from new rule change

By Ben Smith
Hoskins Sotutu, Akira Ioane of the Blues look on ahead of the round one Super Rugby Pacific match between Highlanders and Blues at Forsyth Barr Stadium, on February 25, 2023, in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

Super Rugby’s raft introduction of rule changes to speed the game up received a ringing endorsement from Western Force coach Simon Cron, but the flow-on effects are set to benefit players as well.


One rule change in particular has altered the set-piece platform, with the defending halfbacks no longer allowed past the tunnel on scrums, allowing for cleaner ball for the attacking side.

The defending No 9 was able to harass his opposite number while blocking one running path for the No 8 under the old rules.

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Speaking on Sky Sport NZ’s The Breakdown, Sir John Kirwan believed that Blues No 8 Hoskins Sotutu is primed to take advantage of the new rule.

In the Blues dominant 60-20 point win over the Highlanders the No 8 clocked up 82 running metres on 12 carries while producing five offloads.

“I really think that these new rules are going to help Hoskins [Sotutu],” Kirwan told The Breakdown panel.

“I think Hoskins is an incredibly talented ball player, we saw that in the weekend.

“So if he gets a little more time I hope he is really going to have a breakout season.”

Hoskins Sotutu burst onto the scene in 2020 as one of Super Rugby’s premier ball carrying threats that dominated the gain line.


His form was so damaging that the Blues pushed previous No 8 Akira Ioane into a new role on the blindside to allow Sotutu to start.

The then 22-year-old rode his form into the All Blacks squad but fell down the pecking order in his second season.

Sotutu earned a recall in 2022 but managed a lone start in Melbourne against the Wallabies when Ardie Savea stayed behind in New Zealand for the birth of his child.

The other impressive loose forward that Kirwan rated after the opening round was Crusaders blindside Ethan Blackadder.


“How hard does Ethan Blackadder run? That’s a great option for the All Blacks as well,” Kirwan said.

Blackadder made his All Black debut in 2021 but injury prevented him from having a follow up season.

In the opening round against the Chiefs, his hard running caught the eye of former New Zealand 7s rep Karl Te Nana.

“You see the first replay, the line that he ran, the gain line that he got but he had no regard for his own body,” he said.

“That’s what he brings, he’s got that toughness, that hard running. Good luck in that 10 channel.”



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Gerald 472 days ago

Ben, was so good to see Super Rugger start again. I really like the new law changes, as this makes the game so much better to watch. The last while all we have read and heard about is how good the NH sides are. I cannot believe that it almost seems everyone north of the equator writes off the chances of the SH sides. Crazy. The ABs have ALWAYS been the benchmark, and nothing has changed. Every side in the world celebrates a win against the ABs as historical, and none more so that the Boks. Witness the tears from Pieter Steph du Toit. Every Saffa knows that the real test is against the ABs. The only thing that will even things out is interpretation of the rules, the refs, the weather and the influence of the crowds. The NH sides will use every trick in the book to slow down the game and kill time

Gerald 472 days ago

So relieved to read this article, as was genuinely concerned that something had happened to Ben. Been a while, and have missed Ben like I would miss my favorite 5 iron.

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