Ulster rugby confirm signing of New Zealand All Black Charles Piutau
Ulster rugby have confirmed the sensational signing of New Zealand All Black Charles Piutau in a two-year contract.
The 23-year-old, who can play at fullback, wing or in the centre will arrive at the Kingspan Stadium on July 1 2016.
Piutau was part of the 2011 Junior World Championship winning New Zealand U20s side and was the team’s top try scorer in the tournament. He also starred in the All Blacks Sevens team that won the World Series in 2011/12.
He made his test debut against France, in June 2013 and has played 14 international matches for the All Blacks so far, scoring four tries.
Piutau was born in Auckland and has played 36 matches for the Blues in Super Rugby scoring eight tries.
Charles Piutau said: "It was a difficult decision to leave the Blues and New Zealand rugby as I have really enjoyed my time with them so far. However, when I spoke with Ulster I was impressed with what they had to say and I am excited about their future plans.
“I am looking forward to moving to Belfast, experiencing a new culture and playing in the northern hemisphere. I can’t wait to get stuck in with my new teammates in July 2016.”
Ulster Rugby’s team manager, Bryn Cunningham, says the signing is an indication of the ambition at the province:
“To secure someone of Charles’ ability is hugely exciting for us as it shows that the best players want to come and represent Ulster Rugby and that the province can attract world-class talent.
“Our aim is to produce local players with the ability to play for Ulster and Ireland and then supplement them with top-quality internationals. Charles, with his experience with the All Blacks, fits perfectly in that model.
“As he has shown for both the Blues and New Zealand, he has searing pace and great feet. He has an exceptional offloading game and he is rock-solid in defence. He also possesses leadership qualities and maturity beyond his years and that came across strongly in my conversations with him.
“We could not ask for a more rounded, professional person and I believe that he will add enormous value to our squad both on and off the pitch."
Rugby fans have reacted positively to the news of Ulster's plans to sign Piutau, telling this newspaper he would be welcomed with open arms at Kingspan.