Rugby: Kieran Read backs Hoskins Sotutu to claim All Blacks jersey

Former All Blacks captain Kieran Read admits he's enjoying his unfamiliar position as spectator during Super Rugby Aotearoa.

Back from Japan after the Top League season fell victim to COVID-19, the Crusaders great has savoured the weekly derbies without a hint of envy.

"Right now, sitting watching, I'm pretty glad I am watching it," Read tells Newshub. "It looks like some pretty tough footy.

"It's been great to watch. I think the whole competition has been awesome. 

"Those were the games in the past that you always got up for, especially against guys you know and are mates with, and most of the time, they were the toughest games to play as well.

"It's a tough gig, but the quality has been strong and I think guys are just appreciating being on the field."

Read's also made the natural transition to armchair critic and is highly impressed by what he's seen, particularly among the emerging talent at loose forward, an obvious area of expertise for the two-time World Cup winner.

One player, in particular, who's caught Read's eye is Blues dynamo Hoskins Sotutu. The 22-year-old's spectacular blend of power and skill has been one of the highlights of the revised competition, and Read believes he's worthy of wearing his old black No.8 jersey.

"I think he's certainly capable of it," he says.

"In terms of No.8, I feel it's a pretty specialist position, but he seems to have a pretty good grasp of it so far. It's going to be up to him if he wants to keep improving himself and keep pushing himself to get better.

"I'm sure he's going to find himself in the jersey, if he wants it."

Read also makes honourable mentions of Sotutu's Blues colleague Akira Ioane and the Highlanders' Shannon Frizell.

"He was an All Black last year and performed so well in the World Cup that he must've gained so much confidence… now he's doing the same thing this year.

"There are plenty of guys who are doing a great job."

The 34-year-old is making the most of his extended break back in New Zealand, spending time with his family and resting up, before making an eventual return to his Toyota Verblitz squad early in the new year.

While he's home, Read won't rule out a potential cameo for Counties Steelers in the Mitre 10 Cup.

"It'd be exciting," he admits. "There are a few things that'd need to happen for that to work out.

"At the moment, I'm just enjoying time with the family for the first time in a long time."

Join us for live updates of the Crusaders v Hurricanes Super Rugby Aotearoa clash from 7pm Saturday

Rugby: Kieran Read backs Hoskins Sotutu to claim All Blacks jersey