Hoskins Sotutu, the No 8 who has emerged this year as one of the rising stars in New Zealand rugby, has signed a new two-year contract extension to remain with the Blues in Super Rugby.
Sotutu, 21, qualifies for England through his mother, with Telegraph Sport reporting last week that the back-row was on the radar of England head coach Eddie Jones.
However any move north now seems off the cards following Sotutu's latest contract extension. The No 8 has been a fundamental part of the Blues' unbeaten start to the inter-provincial competition, with Sotutu currently the leading tackler in Super Rugby Aotearoa.
Blues head coach Leon MacDonald said: “He has a unique skillset which is well-rounded. He has set-up tries with his kicking and with accurate missed passes yet he can do the core roles of carrying hard, offloading, making his tackles and an asset in the lineout.
“Hoskins got his chance with the work he did pre-season and has continued to deliver game-in, game-out, and he is developing from a very quiet teenager to a real contributor off the field also.
“He has come out of the Blues and Auckland systems and if he continues to develop with the same attitude, he can look forward to a long and successful career with us.”
“I have signed for two more years with the Blues which is great,” said Sotutu. “My goals are for the Blues to kick-on in this competition how we left off before Covid-19, keep the team strong and help them continue to improve.
“It is all about the team for me. I don’t like to look too far ahead. I like to focus on the team I am playing for.”
England remain well stocked at No 8, with Billy Vunipola set to return from injury after missing the Six Nations with an arm fracture, when his place was filled by flanker Tom Curry.
Newcastle's Mark Wilson has also returned from injury following the Rugby World Cup, while Nathan Hughes, who missed out on selection for Japan, has hit form following his move from Wasps to Bristol.