Sotutu hitting form at right time

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It will be the Blues' first final since 2003.


Sotutu said there was a realisation after they sealed their place by beating the Force 31-21 in Auckland on Saturday that they could have played better, but they were happy to secure a home final, something they had been trying to achieve for a long time.


"Everyone is pretty keen to get stuck in next week.


"We know the Blues have been through tough years, and there's been a lot of emotions, a lot of downs," he said.


But they wanted to work hard and regain the support of their Blues region. Making the final was ' pretty special to us', he said.


Sotutu said they knew if they won on Saturday, their opponent would be either the Highlanders or Crusaders. They weren't fussed on who, they were just keen to get the final for Eden Park.


"Having the Crusaders not in the final is pretty weird, especially the last few years, but I think a lot of New Zealand will be happy to see that, maybe," he said.

The Blues knew from their game in Dunedin, when they lost to the Highlanders in Super Rugby Aotearoa, what they could expect in the final.


"They pounced on every opportunity. We know how they can play, they are a pretty x-factor team. They score some pretty cool tries off the set-piece, and we know they can be pretty clinical when they have to be," he said.


Some readjustment would be involved playing a New Zealand team after five rounds against Australian sides, but they had to concentrate on working at what they were good at.


"We proved in the first game against them here, that we put on a show, and did pretty well, so hopefully we can do that again," he said.


The Blues were disappointed with their Super Rugby Aotearoa season, but they had found consistency in the Trans-Tasman version, and the players had found what made them tick during their week to perform at 100 per cent on game days.


Another factor in recent weeks had been the return of captain and lock Patrick Tuipulotu, who had shown his ability with valuable defensive work and high tackle counts.


"It's been mean having him back, but in saying that, the locks have been playing well for us the last few games and they have done well filling in his shoes, so we've got firepower everywhere," he said.


Sotutu's best form has been seen during the most recent rounds of the competition, and he put that down to getting balance in his game between doing the hard grafting work and the individual touches that he enjoys doing.


"Getting that balance right, I find I am in positions to get my hand on the ball and I'm doing other stuff to help the team out," he said.


Coach Leon MacDonald was delighted Sotutu had timed his run to form so well.


"Hoskins is extremely skilful. When we had been struggling for a little bit, he turned the pressure round and gave us good field position, which is important.


"He's multi-skilled, he's an ex-water polo player so he's got the ability to use the ball and offload at another level to everybody else. Having Aki [Akira Ioane] coming off the bench with his physicality was a nice little mix as well," he said.


"It's a real privilege to play in a final. A lot of guys haven't been in big games like this, it's something a little new. We don't want to blow it up too big and freeze. We want to make sure we do this right and manage the team well," he said.