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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 15 July, 2020

Steve Hansen 'extremely disappointed' with All Black's decision to head for Ireland

Charles Piutau agreed a big money deal with Ulster.

Charles Piutau: may now be excluded from the World Cup squad.
Charles Piutau: may now be excluded from the World Cup squad.
Image: Photosport/Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

RISING ALL BLACKS star Charles Piutau may have sold his World Cup berth with coach Steve Hansen indicating he could be on the outer for accepting a lucrative European deal.

The 23-year-old fullback has signed a two-year contract to join Irish club Ulster in July 2016, nearly a year after the World Cup.

But Hansen said he was “extremely disappointed” Piutau planned to leave and said “commitment” would be a factor when determining the squad that will defend New Zealand’s world crown in England later this year.

“Does it make him ineligible for the World Cup? No it doesn’t. But it does make it harder for him,” Hansen told Fairfax Media on Thursday.

“He’s going to have to play really, really well. We’ve got a duty to pick the best team but at the same time if two guys are vying for one spot then things like commitment and experience come into it.

“Not only are you picking for today but you’re also picking for tomorrow. That’s what we’ve done with him for three years.”

The Auckland Blues fullback, who can also cover wing and centre, is contesting an already congested role in the All Blacks which includes Israel Dagg, Julian Savea, Ben Smith and Cory Jane.

Media reports said the 14-Test Piutau had signed a two-year contract that would have kept him in All Blacks contention, but the Ulster offer — reportedly worth €690,000 per year — arrived before he could return the document to the New Zealand Rugby Union.

“It was a difficult decision to leave the Blues and New Zealand rugby as I have really enjoyed my time with them so far,” Piutau told the Ulster website.

“However, when I spoke with Ulster I was impressed with what they had to say and I am excited about their future plans.”

Ulster team manager Bryn Cunningham said: “To secure someone of Charles’s ability is hugely exciting for us.”

By signing with Ulster, Piutau has ruled himself out of contention for an Olympic Games berth in 2016 with the New Zealand Sevens team and will miss the 2017 tour by the British and Irish Lions.

“He was a person we were hoping would grow over time after this World Cup into one of our senior players. We’ve put a lot of time and effort into him so we’re disappointed he’s decided to go down that route,” Hansen said.

© AFP 2015.

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