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Piutau: Why Kiwi star will be fired up for Ulster's win or bust Euro clash


By Jonathan Bradley

Published 14/01/2017

Determined: Charles Piutau in Ulster Captain’s Run yesterday
Determined: Charles Piutau in Ulster Captain’s Run yesterday

Ulster superstar Charles Piutau has called on the side to take a giant step towards the Champions Cup quarter finals with victory in tomorrow's do-or-die clash with Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park (5.30pm).

Piutau's Wasps side made the semi-finals of the competition last season and big European clashes in the spring are just the sort of occasion he wants to bring back for the Ulster supporters.

"Our backs are against the wall and we need points," said the 25-year-old. "That makes our last two games must wins if we're to have any chance to make quarters.

"We don't want to come back to Kingspan with our last pool game against Bordeaux next Saturday rendered meaningless.

"This game against Exeter is crucial and we've got to put in a big performance. For the club it would mean a lot.

"Last year they just missed out. We want to improve on that but we have to focus on Exeter, there's no use looking beyond this game.

"Fingers crossed because it would be great for the supporters here and, to be able to play at that level, would be a great experience for guys who haven't been there before. It's a great opportunity and it would be great if we could make it happen."

Piutau was rested for the defeat to Scarlets in the PRO12 last weekend and his return to the starting line-up is part of a backline re-jig by Director of Rugby Les Kiss.

With his All Black winger back in harness, there is no room in the match-day 23 for two-time British and Irish Lions tourist Tommy Bowe with Jacob Stockdale preferred on the bench.

Meanwhile, Dave Shanahan will make a first senior start at scrum-half.

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