Tuesday 20 March 2018

Piutau targeting sparkling return

Charles Piutau. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Charles Piutau. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

If ever an Irish import could boast that his reputation precedes him, then Charles Piutau fits the bill perfectly.

Having effectively spurned the opportunity to become a World Cup winner with the All Blacks, the gifted full-back opted instead to follow the lucrative trail north, stopping off for a year-long loan at Wasps.

The gilded English side might have fancied their chances of maintaining his stay; Ulster were having none of it, especially as his reputed €700k salary makes him the highest earner in the province (Ruan Pienaar will earn around €550k in this, his last season with the province).

After a thumb injury, sustained in a clash with team-mate Andrew Trimble in training, ruled him out of the weekend win in Treviso, this Friday's visit to winless Scarlets will present another chance for one of the fastest men in world rugby to demonstrate his awesome ability.

"I was very frustrated," the 16-times capped Kiwi says, after a relatively subdued debut at home to Dragons a fortnight ago, when he was tightly marked; his presence created space for others to shine, however.

"I was like a fan screaming for the team last weekend. The expectation or pressure doesn't affect me. As a rugby player, I just try to do my role to the best of my ability.

"I'm just trying to enjoy it really and have fun. You try to shut out the noise and zone in on what you're doing on the field at that moment.

"It could be a positive if people target me, sometimes they put an extra man on you or try tactics to take you out of the game. You have to try different things to make sure you stay involved.

"Watching from afar, I knew the quality of player and finally being here, their skills surpass my expectations."

Out-half Paddy Jackson will lead the clutch of returning Irish internationals for the trip to west Wales as Ulster seek to build upon their opening two Guinness Pro12 victories.

Irish Independent

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