Watch: Hoskins Sotutu goes full Harlem Globetrotter in contender for try of the season
Watching Hoskins Sotutu play rugby, it’s easy to see the 22-year-old’s passion for basketball creeping into the loose forward’s game.
Sotutu played the sport in his early years before making the commitment to rugby and the rangey number 8 regularly uses those skills honed in the five-man game as a point of difference over his loose forward rivals.
His talents were on full display on Saturday evening in the Blues’ comprehensive 50-3 win over the Rebel, with Sotutu nabbing two tries for his team.
His first came in the 47th minute, with the big number 8 diving over the try-line from close range – though the TMO had to have a length look to determine whether Sotutu had been able to get the ball on the turf or if he’d been held up.
Less than 10 minutes later, he was on the score sheet again after controlling the ball at the back of a 5-metre attacking scrum before lurching over the line unopposed.
Perhaps Sotutu’s biggest impact didn’t come in his scoring efforts, however, instead in the contributions he made in the build-up to a number of key moments.
In the first half, Sotutu was always on hand as a support runner and at one stage made a one-handed catch and pass that had former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika waxing lyrical about the big man’s skills. From that same play, the Blues eventually touched down through Tom Robinson for their first five-pointer of the match.
It was late in the match that the 22-year-old really showcased his talents, however, during a Blues score which will certainly be in contention for try of the season.
Sotutu, in the middle of the park, received a wide pass from replacement first five Harry Plummer before throwing a pinpoint cut-out ball to winger Bryce Heem, who was parked on the right-hand sideline.
Heem galloped up the line and while also fending off Wallabies flyer Marika Koroibete, threw an offload in-field to Sotutu, who basically bunted the ball back out to fullback Zarn Sullivan.
Ioane was caught five metres short of the try line and after some quick recycling, Plummer kicked the ball out to AJ Lam, who picked the ball out of the air and dotted down for the Blues’ fifth try of the evening.
? TRY OF THE YEAR CONTENDER ?
— Rugby on Nine (@RugbyOnNine) May 15, 2021
It was a superlative effort, and one that showcased how dangerous the Blues can be with a bit of momentum – something which they sorely lacked at times during the Super Rugby Aotearoa season.
Unsurprisingly, social media was alight with praise for Sotutu, the man who earned a handful of All Blacks caps in 2020 but could be set for more game time this year with captain Sam Cane sidelined through injury.
I just can't shake the feeling, at some point, and that point might be very, very soon, Hoskins Sotutu is going to shake his final few rough edges and become the best player in the world. He's got the potential to be an era-defining talent.
— Squidge Rugby (@SquidgeRugby) May 15, 2021
— Shanaka Amarasinghe (@ShanakaScore) May 15, 2021
Ah Hoskins Sotutu! ?????? those soft hands ?×????? Stop it! ? #REBvBLU
BLUES running riot! ???
— Aaron Smith's Pass ?? (@Doc_Torio) May 15, 2021
Sotutu finished the match with three offloads to his name as well as 12 passes – more than anyone in his team except for starting halfback Finlay Christie.
He was also destructive on the run, clocking up 39 metres on attack and beating three defenders.
Sotutu will be competing with the likes of Ardie Savea, Dalton Papalii, Cullen Grace, Ethan Blackadder and Luke Jacobson for All Blacks berths and if he maintain his current form, he’ll be the favourite to wear the No 8 jersey come the test season.
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