New Zealand
Kirwan: players face hard contract choices
ESPN Staff
April 3, 2015
The Blues' Charles Piutau talks to the media, Auckland, April 2, 2015
The Blues' Charles Piutau talks to the media © Getty Images

Blues coach Sir John Kirwan can attest to the "tough" time experienced by Charles Piutau in deciding his rugby future.

Piutau, 23, opted against re-signing with New Zealand Rugby in order to join Ulster on a two-year deal from mid-2016. Piutau's decision has surprised many people in New Zealand, with All Blacks coach Steve Hansen expressing "extreme" disappointment, but Kirwan said he had "been living it with Charles for the last few weeks".

"It's a trend isn't it? You've got other guys around his age who have already gone. It's a difficult time for New Zealand Rugby, difficult decisions for good young men."

Kirwan said Piutau was leaving for the reasons outlined to the media.

"He wants to get better as a person, he wants to make sure he's supporting his family, he wants to grow," Kirwan said. "When they come back to you with those answers, and they have both situations, then you just have to support them through it."

Kirwan said the experience of the likes of Rugby World Cup-winning back-rower Jerome Kaino had shaped the thinking of younger players. He said they could see themselves going away for a couple of years then returning to New Zealand and continuing to play for several more years.

Kaino returned to Super Rugby in 2014 after a two-year stint in Japan, and he slotted straight back into the All Blacks. Named Blues skipper this season, he re-signed this week with New Zealand Rugby until the end of 2018.


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