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Dublin: 13 °C Saturday 15 August, 2020

Ulster's big-money marquee signing picked up a worrying injury for the Blues

Charles Piutau was forced off as the Blues beat the Force in Auckland.

FUTURE ULSTER BACK Charles Piutau’s Super Rugby season may be over after the 23-year-old suffered a knee injury during the Blues’ 41-24 win over the Force in Auckland.

Charles Piutau after going off injured Piutau cut a dejected figure after being replaced. Source: Photosport/Anthony Au-Yeung/INPHO

Ulster last month announced that the exceptionally dynamic All Black will join the province in July, 2016 on a two-year contract believed to be worth in the region of €700,000 per season.

The transfer is clearly some time away, but Piutau hobbled off with a worrying knee injury this morning that might rule him out of the remainder of the Super Rugby campaign and possibly affect his participation the World Cup later this year.

Last year, a grade-two medial ligament knee problem ruled Piutau out of the summer Tests against England, and it looks like a similar issue might hinder his chances of featuring in the global tournament in 2015.

Francis Saili celebrates at the final whistle Future Munster centre Francis Saili played 80 minutes. Source: Photosport/Anthony Au-Yeung/INPHO

Piutau’s decision to move to Ulster next year had already left him in a weakened position in the eyes of All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, particularly given the competition for a back three place in the New Zealand squad.

An extended period out of the game, and therefore a lack of opportunities to impress Hansen and his fellow selectors, would come at exactly the wrong time for Piutau.

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“It’s similar to last year against the Chiefs,” Blues coach Sir John Kirwan told after his side beat the Force. “He can’t feel anything so we’ll have to get him scanned. It could be a wee while. He’s hoping for the best.”

GIF 3 Melani Nanai crosses for his second try in Auckland.

Piutau has already won 14 New Zealand caps in his career and will hope to add to that tally before and after his stint in Ireland with Ulster.

The Blues picked up just their second win of the Super Rugby season in beating the Force this morning, with promising wing Melani Nanai [2], All Blacks back row Steven Luatua, hugely-exciting 19-year-old Akira Ioane and replacement out-half Ihaia West all scoring tries.

The Force did manage to score four tries of their own, but Kirwan’s Blues were comfortable in seeing out a rare win. Future Munster centre Francis Saili played the full 80 minutes for the Kiwi franchise in the 13 shirt.

Three of the All Blacks’ potential World Cup out-halves faced off this morning

Clermont ready to topple mighty Toulon and the weight of history

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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