Battle Of The No.8 – Sotutu v Savea

It’s going to be the battle of the No.8.
14 Jun 2020 10:34
Battle Of The No.8 – Sotutu v Savea
Hoskins Sotutu and Ardie Savea.

It’s going to be the battle of the No.8.

The Blues have named Hoskins Sotutu at the back of the scrum against Hurricanes in their Super Rugby Aotearoa opener at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand today.

The Hurricanes are going to bring in fiery All Blacks flanker turned No.8 Ardie Savea, later in the match.

Savea who is making a return to Super Rugby was seen as the man to take over from former All Blacks captain and No.8 Kieran Read.

In December, 2019, Rugby News rated, Savea as Read’s possible successor while other contenders were Fijian-born Pita Gus Sowakula of the Chiefs and Akira Ioane of the Blues.

All that changed at the start of this year’s Super Rugby when Sotutu stamped his mark with the Blues relegating Ioane to the bench.

Sotutu is big, fast, skilful and tough. He is the son of former Blues utility back Waisake Sotutu who was the Flying Fijians vice-captain to the 1999 Rugby World Cup in France.

Hailing from the village of Tavea in Bua, the 21-year-old is expected to be tested by Savea.

“The Blues are my team, the team I care about– and I feel like I was only going to play the best rugby for a team that I care about,” Sotutu told Rugby Pass.

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster is monitoring the players as well.

He is looking to bring in a player with a bit more mass– someone who can compete with the likes of Billy Vunipola and Pieter-Steph du Toit.

“This Super campaign is really vital for those positions– 6 and 8 – we need people to actually show week-in, week-out that they’ve got what it takes to make the next step,” said Foster.

Already, two players that wouldn’t have even been on most people’s radars last year have started making waves in Super Rugby. They are Sotutu and Crusaders’ Cullen Grace.

Grace’s 1.90metre, 106-kilogram frame isn’t quite in the same league as Vunipola or du Toit, but it’s still a step up from both Sam Cane and Savea.

With men like Dalton Papalii, Blake Gibson, Tom Robinson and Akira Ioane on the Blues’ roster, it was hard to envisage Sotutu even cracking the bench.

While Grace has been dominant on defence, Sotutu has stood out thanks to his hunger on attack and seemingly insatiable desire to hit breakdown after breakdown.

With almost identical measurements to Grace, it’s also good to see Sotutu’s softer skill on show, with a deftly weighted grubber kick from the number 8 setting up a try for wing Mark Telea in the Blues’ win over the Waratahs in the second round.

Edited by Simione Haravanua


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