Charles Piutau Opens Up About His Decision To Leave New Zealand In Telling Interview
Charles Piutau has opened up about his decision to leave New Zealand in a lengthy interview with Donald McRae in the Guardian
The versatile back is regarded as one of the very best in the world, and shocked New Zealand back in 2015 when he revealed he was going to leave their system and take up a contract overseas.
Piutau was expected to make the All Blacks squad for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, but announced to the world in March 2015 that he would be leaving to take up a contract with Ulster, via Wasps. Piutau says the offer came out of the blue.
“That was the hardest point in my career so far,” Piutau says.
“It was another dream to play in a World Cup – and falling short was tough. But the Ulster offer came out of the blue. I was counting on my agent agreeing a contract with New Zealand and he had to tell me about Ulster the night before we were meant to finalise things. I was like: ‘You’ve got to give me two weeks to think about this.’ I wasn’t thinking of coming overseas.”
On making the decision to move, Piutau says the opportunity to take care of his family as his parents did for him and his siblings was too hard to turn down.
“When I was in New Zealand it felt like the All Blacks were everything. It felt like you were going to play forever. You felt invincible. But, taking a step back, you realise it’s such a short career. For me, what really hit home was remembering everything my parents had done for me and my siblings. They left Tonga for New Zealand to give us better opportunities. And for me, coming here, I had the same chance to do something similar for my family.”
Piutau is the youngest of 10 children who grew up in the tough Auckland suburb of Mangere. Piutau and his four brothers…
“Lived in the garage. We had three beds and a couple of bunk beds. I guess they were hard times but it never felt like that. It speaks volumes for my parents that I never thought ‘I’m still hungry’ or ‘I need clothes.’ But you look back at 12 people needing to be fed and you think: ‘How did they do it?’ I just take the positives – the love they showed and the discipline they taught us.”
You can read Piutau’s brilliant interview with McRae in full here.