21 May 2015

NZR stands tough on Piutau

6:56 am on 21 May 2015

The New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew says letting departing All Black Charles Piutau play Super Rugby for the Blues next season could have set a dangerous precedent.

All Black Charles Piutau (right) will miss the remainder of the Super Rugby season while teamate Luke Braid is also in doubt.

All Black Charles Piutau (right) will miss the remainder of the Super Rugby season while teamate Luke Braid is also in doubt. Photo: Photosport

Last month Piutau caught New Zealand Rugby off-guard when he backed out of a new NZR deal at the 11th hour to sign a lucrative contract with Irish club Ulster which starts next year.

Although the Blues wanted him play Super Rugby up until his departure next September, Piutau would have been available for up to 11 rounds of the 2016 season, Tew says that was never a possibility.

He says allowing Piutau to play would have sent the wrong message to other young players.

"We have a long-standing policy relating to New Zealand eligible players wanting to sign short-term contracts for the length of the Super Rugby season," Tew said.

"That player must have played five or more Super Rugby seasons before this can be considered."

"We obviously treat each case on its merits. However, in terms of Piutau, his case doesn't meet our criteria. He's played fewer than five Super Rugby seasons and was not available for the full 2016 season. He's also departing New Zealand for some time."

"Allowing him to play would have sent the wrong message about the level of commitment required of players to participate in our competitions."

The decision won't come as a great surprise to Piutau, who has already acknowledged that he'll likely have to find a short-term contract overseas before the Ulster deal kicks in.

It is a major blow for the struggling Blues however, with the decision robbing them of another international player with a number of All Blacks already set to leave the franchise after this year's World Cup.

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