'None of this is his fault': All Black casualty Pita Gus Sowakula looking outside-in

All Black rookie Pita Gus Sowakula missed the cut in the 42-man squad for The Rugby Championship after making his debut in the three-match series against Ireland.

The Chiefs No 8, renown for his strong ball-carrying, featured off the bench in the first two tests seeing limited action as one of the loose forward reserves.

In the first test he dropped his first pass at test level before recovering to score a try on debut with his next touch, breaking off the back of a five metre scrum to power through Irish flyhalf Joey Carbery.

In the second test the All Blacks lost starting No 8 Ardie Savea in the first half to a red card substitution and Sowakula didn’t enter the game until the 69th minute. His first touch again was another drop, after a wide cutout pass from Richie Mo’unga.

He didn’t feature in the third test as Dalton Papalii returned to the bench and the All Blacks opted to debut Roger Tuivasa-Sheck as an extra back, leaving the Fijian-born loose forward with limited opportunity to push his claims forward.

Sowakula was named the most unluckiest player to miss out on the latest All Blacks squad on Sky Sport NZ’s The Breakdown by former All Black Jeff Wilson and former Irish international Isaac Boss.

“I feel for Pita Gus Sowakula, this isn’t his fault, none of this is his fault,” Wilson said of his omission.

“What it is for me, is they have looked at the blindside flanker position and they have decided it is Scott Barrett or Shannon Frizell.

“That’s the body we want, that’s the lineout target, the size, the carry, the physical presence we want.

“Great to see Shannon back in there, they said he got through the body of work.”

Sowakula was touted as a No 8 and blindside option, but the return to full fitness of experienced All Black blindside Shannon Frizell seemed irresistible to Ian Foster’s selection committee.