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Charles Piutau gave Ulster fans an exciting glimpse of the future in Dublin

The All Black-capped fullback was sensational for Wasps as they beat Leinster.

ULSTER FANS WILL have to wait until next summer to finally call Charles Piutau their player, but the excitement around that moment will only have grown with the fullback’s sensational performance for Wasps at the RDS this afternoon.

Charles Piutau Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The New Zealander was deservedly named man of the match as Dai Young’s men swept Leinster aside on a 33-6 scoreline, and he looks like being a key figure for the remainder of their season.

The 16-times capped All Black had initially hoped to spend the first half of this season playing Super Rugby with the Blues before moving to Ulster in July of 2016 to start his lucrative two-year deal in Ireland.

However, the New Zealand Rugby Union – angry to lose a player of Piutau’s quality to the Northern Hemisphere at the age of 24 – blocked that intention, leaving the versatile back without a contract for the coming season.

With Ulster’s handful of non-Irish qualified spots already taken up for this campaign, there was no prospect of an early move to the northern province, meaning Wasps were more than happy to step in and secure Piutau.

“We were quite lucky,” said Wasps’ director of rugby Dai Young after watching his side beat Leinster. “Charles was contracted and couldn’t go (to Ulster) this season, so they were looking for somewhere for him to go for the season.

“Our hand was straight up and I thought he did a great job today.”

Charles Piutau receives the Man of the Match award from Karl Donnelly Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

This was only Piutau’s second appearance for Wasps having joined following the conclusion of Auckland’s ITM campaign, in which they were beaten by Canterbury in the final.

Despite the relative lack of familiarity with his circumstances, the Auckland native looked like a European rugby veteran as he ripped Leinster apart with his footwork, burst of pace, strength in contact and gorgeous offloading.

Even when there was no space to dance into, Piutau simply put the foot down on the accelerator and won the collision. He looks built for the task ahead at Ulster.

It has helped Piutau that fellow New Zealand natives Frank Halai – his former Blues teammate – and Sailosi Tagicakibau are at Wasps, both of them having come through the famous Wesley College in Auckland too.

“He’s been fantastic really,” said Young. “It’s helped that him and Frank know each other really well and Losi as well, they were all in the same school. Apparently Losi used to bully him, but I don’t believe that!

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Ian Madigan and Fergus McFadden tackle Charles Piutau Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“That’s helped, but we’ve got a good, friendly group and he’s fitted in really well. People fit in a little easier on the back of wins than they do on losses, so that helps.”

Piutau was hugely unfortunate to miss out on New Zealand’s World Cup squad, as Steve Hansen took a risk on Waisake Naholo recovering from his leg injury rather than backing Piutau’s excellent pre-tournament form.

It’s a decision that hurt Piutau, who felt he had shown enough to earn inclusion and help the All Blacks towards their eventual success. Piutau’s brother, 30-year-old Siale, made the cut in Tonga’s squad, starting four games.

Whatever about the disappointment of his omission, Piutau appears to have swiftly moved on and settled in for his season with Wasps. Les Kiss, Neil Doak and everyone at Ulster will have to wait, but they will get a superb player when Piutau eventually lands in Belfast.

“Ulster have got a fantastic player and you’re going to see a lot of him over here in Ireland,” said Young. “We’ve borrowed him for a year and we’re certainly thrilled that he’s doing a job for us.”

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