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England coach Eddie Jones plans stunning raid for 'next All Blacks sensation' Hoskins Sotutu
05:31 am GMT+12, 03/07/2020, United Kingdom

Eddie Jones is understood to be keen to investigate the international aspirations of Hoskins Sotutu, this season's Super Rugby sensation, after the Auckland Blues No 8 revealed he qualifies for England via his mother, Telegraph Sport can reveal.
 
Sotutu has already been hailed as a future All Blacks star after a succession of outstanding performances for the Blues during their unbeaten start to Super Rugby Aotearoa, which got underway last month.
 
The 21 year-old, however, has now also appeared on the radar of Jones, who is thought to be keen to establish if Sotutu holds any interest in playing for England while he remains uncapped.
 
Sotutu, the son of former Fiji vice-captain and ex-Blues wing Waisake Sotutu, also has the option of representing the Pacific Island nation so could potentially find himself in a three-way battle for his services.
 
Jones, who is currently in Japan, has already recruited two players from Super Rugby sides in New Zealand. He selected Piers Francis, who was born and raised in England, while he was still at the Blues for the tour of Argentina in 2017.
 
Brad Shields, who qualified for England via his parents, was also selected for the tour of South Africa the following year while he was at the Hurricanes, before he joined Wasps.
 
Having been born and raised in New Zealand, Sotutu admits he will likely have to make a choice soon over his international future.
 
“Whatever is next will come,” he said 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 commit to a move to the Premiership, and one agent indicated there would be a queue of clubs interested, even though it would involve a financial settlement as he is under contract at the Blues.
 
There is little wonder he has attracted Jones’ attention. Sotutu has proven himself to be an outstanding footballer during his breakthrough season, demonstrating an extraordinary skill-set and dynamism that could be suited to the new high-tempo game that Jones believes will be critical to success in his long-term plans for the 2023 World Cup.
 
At 6ft 4ins and just over 16-and-a-half stone in weight, he may lack the physical prowess of Billy Vunipola, but a 12-metre pass off his left hand to create a try for Mark Telea in horrendous conditions during the Blues' victory over Waitako Chiefs underscored the growing hype over his ability.
 
And Jones has already experimented with a different style of No 8 by selecting Tom Curry, who plays as a flanker for his club Sale, there for England during the Six Nations before it was halted by the Covid-19 lockdown.
 
“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.”
 
Sotutu would appear to offer the kind of all-court game that Jones is seeking. In six games this season, he has made 70 carries, beating 23 opponents and making 386 metres for his side.
 
His line-out work is impressive, while, having played as a back during his school days, he has also demonstrated a range of kicking ability, creating a try with a grubber-kick against the Waratahs before the lockdown and making a clearance kick from the base of a scrum against the Highlanders last week.
 
As a result, Ian Foster, the All Blacks head coach, may look to move quickly to settle any issue regarding Sotutu's Test credentials by capping him later this year, if the international fixture schedule is able to return.
 
Sotutu has already represented the New Zealand Secondary Schools side, in 2016, before going to represent the New Zealand Under-20s team two years later, and is drawing comparisons in New Zealand with All Black legend Kieran Read.

SOURCE: THE TELEGRAPH UK/PACNEWS


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