Rugby: Charles Piutau reveals his trailblazing dream for young New Zealand rugby players

Former All Black Charles Piutau has no regrets about leaving New Zealand for the greener pastures of England and hopes to inspire other aspiring Kiwi players to explore lucrative opportunities overseas.

The 27-year-old is loving life in the UK and enjoying playing in the English Premiership with his new club Bristol, after previous stints with Wasps and Ulster, following his shock departure from New Zealand in 2015.

Having signed a two-year deal reportedly worth $3.38 million to become rugby’s highest paid player, the 17-test All Black hopes his success can help convince other young Kiwis to broaden their horizons.

New Zealand Rugby are fighting a losing battle to keep their best players from chasing big money contracts in England, Europe and Japan, and Piutau encourages others to follow his once frowned upon career path.

“If I was to retire today, I’d say my legacy was showing that leaving New Zealand early, you can still make a career for yourself,” Piutau told INews.co.uk.

“I haven’t looked back and regretted it once.”

Having grown up in South Auckland as the youngest of 10 children, Piutau is pleased to be in a position to help reward his parents for their hard work and support.

Of Tongan heritage, Piutau grew up idolising Jonah Lomu, and followed in his footsteps from an early age attending Wesley College in Pukekohe.

He soon realised, however, that not every player in New Zealand could be like the late great All Blacks winger, Piutau told INews.co.uk.

“Every kid saw how big Jonah Lomu was at the school,” he said.

“His jersey in the dining room, the photos of what he’d done, his athletics achievements on the honours board. It gave us hope of professional rugby.”

After marrying his wife Lineti last July, the former Auckland and Blues star is focused on putting further things in place to ensure his family’s security.

Expanding his property portfolio is one option, but Piutau says his move abroad has helped open plenty of doors.

“We have agents and financial planners and good people around us,” he said.

“If I didn’t have that plan, it could all go to waste. One easy example would be investing in property. I have a couple of residential properties in Auckland, and I’m looking to get more. It has opened my eyes, coming overseas. It gives you options.”

On the field, the 10th placed Bears might be battling, but Piutau’s individual game is thriving. He sits among the Premiership’s top 25 players for metres gained, defenders beaten and offloads this season, despite being sidelined with a shoulder injury over the opening six rounds.

With former Blues comrades Pat Lam as head coach and Steven Luatua captaining the side, Piutau is revelling in his new surrounds and hopes Bristol can improve to carve out their own legacy of success.

“I am loving this environment. I want to look back and see I was part of the Bristol team solidifying it as a strong household name in the Premiership.

“We can create something that future generations can carry on. Exeter, where they are now, are an example. You see it internationally, with what the All Blacks have done. It would be great to see the same from a Bristol Bears perspective.”

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