Blues

Piutau blocked from playing Super Rugby in 2016

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The New Zealand Rugby Union have blocked Charles Piutau from playing Super
Rugby for the Blues in 2016 after he signed a two year contract with Ulster.

Piutau shocked New Zealand Rugby and the All Blacks earlier this year by signing
a two year deal said to be worth NZ$2 million with Irish club Ulster which starts
in July 2016.

Piutau had planned to continue playing Super Rugby for the Blues until July
next year but this has now been blocked as the NZ Rugby Union want to protect
their pathways to the All Blacks.

The Blues back requested to play for the Blues in 2016 but he was rejected
on the basis that he did not meet a policy threshold for a Super Rugby contract
alone.

Under the conditions New Zealand eligible players must have played at Super
Rugby level for at least five years which Piutau has not.

“I can certainly understand people reacting to it and thinking we’re making
a vindictive decision here,” NZR contracts manager Chris Lendrum told Stuff.

“All I can say is that’s not that case. It’s not a decision about Charles
it’s a decision about anyone who was in a similar age and experience bracket
if we were faced with the same question.”

“We don’t think it’s right that people can effectively float out of our
competitions when they feel like it or when they’ve got another contractual
commitment.”

The ruling makes 2015 the last year for at least two more years that the 23-year-old
will be eligible to play for the All Blacks and he will need to prove his fitness
for the All Blacks in July as he is currently working his way back from a knee
injury.

The All Blacks play Samoa in Apia on July 8 and Piutau is hoping that he can
return for the Blues’ final round match against the Highlanders at Eden Park
on June 12.

If Piautau fails to make the All Black squad for this year he will most likely
have to play in Japan or in Europe ahead of his contract with Ulster in 2016.

The NZRU could have allowed him to play for the Blues before the June break
but they did not want to set a dangerous precedent of allowing players to leave
early.

“He could only be here for the first part of the competition. If the Blues
were in finals contention next year he couldn’t be part of that,” Lendrum
said.

“Sure we’ve had people (such as Nemani Nadolo) start slightly late if
they are returning from Japan, but they are always committed right through to
the business end of the competition.” Lendrum said.

“That’s an important principle for us. In all of the circumstances we
felt it wouldn’t be the right thing to do or the right precedent to set and
we’ve communicated that with Charles and he’s accepted that some time ago.

“We’ve generally taken an approach over a number of years that we treat
these sorts of issues differently based on international eligibility. It’s all
essentially about protection of the All Black pathway. Nadolo is different because
he plays for Fiji.”

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