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Hat-trick hero Hoskins Sotutu is a ‘freak of nature’

Hat-trick hero Hoskins Sotutu is a ‘freak of nature’

All BlacksMarch 5, 2024

Recovering from the strong start made by the Highlanders and recovering to win 37-29 in their DHL Super Rugby Pacific game in Melbourne was down to focusing on the moment rather than being distracted by scores against them.

Captain Dalton Papali'i said after the Highlanders scored first that his message to his players was to flush the moment and concentrate on the next job.

"There were a few things that went our way, and a few went theirs, so it was back and forth at the start of the first half, and then at the end we got a few consistent winning moments. We found the chink in the armour, and we struck.

He said while they were happy with the performance, they had to work on some things.

"They came out of the gates and put us under pressure and you don't want to start footy games like that. But it's a 'w' in the column, so we'll take it."

Papali'i said No8 Hoskins Sotutu's hat-trick of tries was typical of him; he is a freak of nature.

"I've known him for years now, and even growing up, he's got a skill set like no other. It's Fijian flair that he has. He's an awesome player, and he's starting the season on form. I hope he carries it on because he's a key player in our team."

Cotter said it was good that the All Blacks' selectors were also watching.

First five-eighths Stephen Perofeta was another to catch the eye, especially for his run from behind the Blues' goalline that carried them to a try to claim the lead on halftime.

And BREATHE 🥵

Super Round, that was incredible 🫡#SuperRugbyPacific pic.twitter.com/42rWDAvabS

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) March 3, 2024

"We talk about initiative and space to free these guys up so they feel they can take those opportunities, and he did. It was outstanding, and the reaction from the team to get up there and go from one end to the other hurt opposition teams.

"They think they've got you boxed in and you find a way out, so that's really pleasing to see and the support play that came in behind was good."

The game was fast, but Papali'i said it was New Zealand football, and players wanted to play exciting rugby for themselves because fans enjoyed it.

"It's a bit hard on the lungs, but footy's not easy. So, we've got to enjoy those dark, hard times out there. We love that stuff."

Coach Vern Cotter said it appeared lock Sam Darry suffered a medial ligament injury that didn't look good, but the players reacted well to his loss.

"Josh Beerhe came in, in only his second game at Super level, and we finished the game with Akira [Ioane] at lock. But the boys did well. We had a couple of defensive errors at the start of the game, and handling errors always make it difficult to get into it."

A SUPER round of #SuperRugbyPacific 🤩

Where is your team on the ladder after #SuperRound2024? pic.twitter.com/CAUAEi9hrZ

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) March 3, 2024

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