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I love the All Blacks but family trumps everything, says Ulster star Piutau


Priority: Charles Piutau chose to stay in Ulster another year

Priority: Charles Piutau chose to stay in Ulster another year

Priority: Charles Piutau chose to stay in Ulster another year

Charles Piutau has insisted it was an "easy decision" to put supporting his family before a chance to chase further All Blacks honours.

Ulster star Piutau will become one of the world's highest earners when he joins Bristol next summer, and admitted holding talks with the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) before settling on his move to England.

Piutau, capped 17 times by the All Blacks, gave up the chance of a place at the 2015 World Cup by agreeing to join Ulster in 2016, enjoying a short stint at Wasps before moving to Belfast.

The 25-year-old met with NZRU bosses over a possible move back to Super Rugby in 2017, but is instead now looking forward to linking back up with his former Auckland Blues coach Pat Lam at Bristol next term.

"There was an option to go back to New Zealand," Piutau said. "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 option for me to stay. Then I started talking to a few clubs, and Bristol was a perfect fit.

"I was born and brought up in New Zealand, I love the All Blacks jersey and I love what it stands for. But when it comes to a place when you can provide for your family and there's a better opportunity, for me it was an easy decision. I'll always choose my family over anything else.

"As well as wanting to provide for my family, I also wanted to experience this side of the world.

"Ulster have been amazing with me, and I've really enjoyed my time here playing for the club and in the city of Belfast.

"So I want to make the most of everything in my final year here."

The bulldozing utility back has taken a place on the players' board of Pacific Rugby Players' Welfare (PRPW), the organisation to further the aims and interests of Pacific Islanders based in Europe. Piutau hailed the initiative set up by former Samoa lock Dan Leo as a means to help Pacific Islanders better cope with life overseas.

Piutau will link up with older brother Siale at Bristol next year - another draw to the club chasing promotion back to the Premiership this term.

"I'm the youngest of 10 siblings so I always wanted to find my own two feet," said Piutau. "I always had that family support but at the same time, coming overseas was hard, but I knew it would help me grow as a person.

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"I also had help from friends and team-mates I'd played with before when I was settling in at Wasps then Ulster too.

"Joining PRPW is a chance for me to give back to the Pacific Islands community. For players to know they have a support network when playing in Europe, that's important."

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