Outstanding Ulster full-back Charles Piutau has shared that it was an easy decision for him to stay in Europe for the sake of his family’s future rather than return to New Zealand to earn more international honours.
A real game-breaker with great feet and electric pace, Piutau, according to The Irish Times, will become one of rugby’s highest paid players when he moves from Ulster to Bristol next season.
The 25-year-old Auckland-born star, who left New Zealand in 2015 for Wasps before moving to Ulster last year, admitted that he had spoken to the NZRU about a possible move back to Super Rugby this year.
But after speaking with New Zealand rugby’s top brass he had decided not to return to his homeland.
The versatile Piutau, who can also play at centre and wing, said (via the BBC):
“After catching up with people in the union it became clear that I didn’t want to go back. So after that it was an easy decision for me to stay in the north.”
A Rugby Championship winner with the All Blacks in 2013, Piutau made his international debut against France in 2013 and went on to make 17 appearances for his country before leaving for the Aviva Premiership in 2015.
Despite only spending a year in England’s top league, he left a lasting impression with his devastating running and proved to be one the best players in the league.
And he has continued his fine form in the Pro12 and now Pro14 with Ulster.
Proud to have worn the prestigious silver fern, the former New Zealand U-20 back admitted that he loved the All Blacks jersey and what it represented before explaining that the opportunity to ensure his family’s future had made the decision to stay in the northern hemisphere an easy one.
“But when it comes to a place where you can provide for your family and there’s a better opportunity, to me it was an easy decision. I’ll always choose my family over anything else.”
Expressing his gratefulness for everything that had happened in New Zealand, he also cited the opportunity to experience different cultures as a factor in his decision to stay.
“I’m so thankful for everything that happened in New Zealand, but as well as wanting to provide for my family, I also wanted to experience this side of the world.”
He will certainly feel at home at Ashton Gate with his brother Siale there, as well as his former coach at the Blues, Pat Lam, who has taken over the coaching reins at the west country club this season.
While his decision not to return to New Zealand is a blow for the All Blacks and New Zealand rugby in general, his decision to stay in the northern hemisphere is great news for European rugby fans.
Hefin Jones, Pundit Arena