Piutau blocked from playing Super Rugby in 2016

The New Zealand Rugby Union have blocked Charles Piutau from playing Super Rugby for the Blues in 2016 after he signed a two year contract with Ulster.

Piutau shocked New Zealand Rugby and the All Blacks earlier this year by signing a two year deal said to be worth NZ$2 million with Irish club Ulster which starts in July 2016.

Piutau had planned to continue playing Super Rugby for the Blues until July next year but this has now been blocked as the NZ Rugby Union want to protect their pathways to the All Blacks.

The Blues back requested to play for the Blues in 2016 but he was rejected on the basis that he did not meet a policy threshold for a Super Rugby contract alone.

Under the conditions New Zealand eligible players must have played at Super Rugby level for at least five years which Piutau has not.

“I can certainly understand people reacting to it and thinking we’re making a vindictive decision here,” NZR contracts manager Chris Lendrum told Stuff.

“All I can say is that’s not that case. It’s not a decision about Charles it’s a decision about anyone who was in a similar age and experience bracket if we were faced with the same question.”

“We don’t think it’s right that people can effectively float out of our competitions when they feel like it or when they’ve got another contractual commitment.”

The ruling makes 2015 the last year for at least two more years that the 23-year-old will be eligible to play for the All Blacks and he will need to prove his fitness for the All Blacks in July as he is currently working his way back from a knee injury.

The All Blacks play Samoa in Apia on July 8 and Piutau is hoping that he can return for the Blues’ final round match against the Highlanders at Eden Park on June 12.

If Piautau fails to make the All Black squad for this year he will most likely have to play in Japan or in Europe ahead of his contract with Ulster in 2016.

The NZRU could have allowed him to play for the Blues before the June break but they did not want to set a dangerous precedent of allowing players to leave early.

“He could only be here for the first part of the competition. If the Blues were in finals contention next year he couldn’t be part of that,” Lendrum said.

“Sure we’ve had people (such as Nemani Nadolo) start slightly late if they are returning from Japan, but they are always committed right through to the business end of the competition.” Lendrum said.

“That’s an important principle for us. In all of the circumstances we felt it wouldn’t be the right thing to do or the right precedent to set and we’ve communicated that with Charles and he’s accepted that some time ago.

“We’ve generally taken an approach over a number of years that we treat these sorts of issues differently based on international eligibility. It’s all essentially about protection of the All Black pathway. Nadolo is different because he plays for Fiji.”

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