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Kiss sure Piutau can boost chances of trophy success

By Michael Sadlier

Published 27/08/2016

Going over: Jacob Stockdale touches down in Ulster’s win over Northampton
at the Kingspan last night
Going over: Jacob Stockdale touches down in Ulster’s win over Northampton at the Kingspan last night

As debuts go it was undeniably eye-catchng and will only add to the hype surrounding Charles Piutau's presence and just what it might mean for Ulster going forward.

Still, when you score and are instrumental in carving out two further scores then the excitement is understandable. And that wasn't all as Piutau was also busily effective in defence, extinguishing several dangerous looking Saints attacks.

It was already known he was the real deal after last season's superb form at Wasps, now the hope is that there will be plenty more of what was on show during last night's man of the match display on his Kingspan debut when the PRO12 kicks off on Friday at home to the Dragons.

Ulster Director of Rugby Les Kiss reckoned that Piutau hadn't "done too badly" last night with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.

"I think Charles would say it's all about a team game but he has come here and been exceptional to what he has given to Ulster, the people here and engaging with the community the way that only good people do," Kiss said.

"When you give you get return like that from the crowd," added Kiss after Piutau made his way around the ground greeting the supporters after the final whistle.

"I think that, first and foremost, is the most important characteristic Charles brings and his team-mates have really bonded with him and him with them.

"And also he is an exceptional player.

"But I think it's a real plus that Charles has come here and given so much," added a contented Kiss.

"I know the work Charles has done with Jacob Stockdale and Rob Lyttle during the week and the little chats all matter and Charles knows that he could live off what the forward pack gave him in that first half.

"We're only scratching the surface about where we are but I think overall we've got to be happy with a lot of the performance.

"Stuart McCloskey was very strong as was Roger (Wilson) in that first half and we had John Andrew come on and he really stood up in the game and I thought our scrum went well against a fairly loaded Saints team.

"And so there were a lot of pluses around the park and the way Paul Marshall changed the game with his taps and when we play up tempo we're a difficult team to contain," Kiss stated.

"And Charles added to it which was not surprsing at all."

As for the actual result, Kiss was well contented with the performances from both the senior and A teams.

"To get to this point is really pleasing," said Kiss of last night's final hit-out before the serious stuff begins.

"It was nice to build to a point where we could deliver what we delivered. We tried to get a couple of big teams (in friendlies) with Exeter and Northampton from the Premiership and we knew it would give us a physical challenge and it was very pleasing how it went."

On the injury front, though, Kiss was less optimistic regarding the availability of prop Ricky Lutton (groin) for next Friday while Louis Ludik's finger injury - which forced him off last night - also sounded less than promising.

Kiss was, though, more upbeat regarding Ruan Pienaar's elbow issue which meant the South African sat out last night.

Belfast Telegraph

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