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Piutau delighted to link up with Ulster at last

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster's star summer signing Charles Piutau arrived in Belfast yesterday and said he was thrilled to finally join up with the province.

Having agreed his big money two-year deal back in March 2015, the 16-times capped All Black utility back spent last season at Wasps, where he lit up the Aviva Premiership and Champions Cup.

"It was a long time ago that we had our first chat," said the 24-year-old upon his arrival at George Best Belfast City Airport.

"I've been part of different teams since then. But I'm finally here now, I'm excited and I can't wait to get ripped into things, and we'll see how it goes."

The majority of Ulster's squad began their pre-season training on Monday - the members of the Ireland squad who toured South Africa will be given extra time - and, while the PRO12 season does not commence until the first weekend of September, the former Auckland Blues man says he cannot wait to run out in front of his new supporters for the first time.

"I've heard so much about the fans here and I've had a little taste on social media. Everyone's been asking me if I'm coming and when I'm coming," he said.

"I'm really looking forward to playing in front of the loyal supporters in the awesome stadium."

With Piutau on board, and the arrival of Springbok Marcell Coetzee when he recovers from a serious knee injury in the winter, Ulster are hoping for an improved season having been beaten semi-finalists in the PRO12 and failing to get out of their Champions Cup pool in each of the past two seasons.

The task at hand if they are to book a return to the European knockout stages will become more clear this afternoon with the draw for the Champions Cup set to take place in Switzerland.

Based on their domestic performance last season, Les Kiss' men will either be among the second or third seeds.

Having been paired with the eventual winners twice in succession, the Kingspan outfit will be hoping for more favourable ties this time around.

Belfast Telegraph


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