Sport

Bristol sign Ulster back Charles Piutau on a two-year deal

Bristol sign Ulster back Charles Piutau on a two-year deal”

Ulster Rugby have confirmed that Charles Piutau has agreed to join English club Bristol following the conclusion of the 2017/18 season.

Not the ideal preparation for the province with the loss of two of their first choice backs and another next season, but Ulster's loss is Bristol's and Pat Lam's gain, as they look to bounce back immediately to the English Premiership after being relegated without a whimper in the 2016/17 season.

Piutau said ex-Connacht coach Pat Lam now being in charge at the Championship side was a big draw, as was his older brother Siale who is also on Bristol's books.

"We're thrilled to have an individual of his huge quality and experience to add to our ranks", Bristol head coach Pat Lam told the club website.

The province's operations director Bryn Cunningham added: "Charles is a fantastic player who delivered many match-winning contributions in his first season with us, and I'm sure he'll produce plenty more over the next ten months. Charles [Piutau] is still worldwide quality player who can play 13, wing or fullback", he said.

Bristol are now in the English Championship after being relegated from the Premiership last season but Lam's squad - including Piutau's older brother Siale which could yet again see the pair reunited after playing together at Wasps - should be strong enough to bounce straight back into the big-time where Lam - who coached his new signing at Auckland Blues - intends to deploy Piutau in just over a year's time. I understand the challenges that lie ahead for the club but firmly believe Bristol can once again become a major force in English and European rugby.

"I think it's massive".

Although Bristol were relegated from the English Premiership last season, they have invested heavily in their squad, bringing in no fewer than 19 new players that include, Irish global Ian Madigan, and former Leinster and Connacht hooker Jason Harris-Wright.

Ulster's Charles Piutau in action against Ospreys in the Guinness Pro12 last April.

He said by sorting his playing future as early as possible, it allows him to concentrate fully on the upcoming season with Ulster. I know that he remains committed to helping us reach our potential in both the GUINNESS PRO14 and Champions Cup.

"It is disappointing that Charles is moving on, but salaries for the world's best players are rising year-on-year and are ultimately determined by what one club is prepared to pay for an individual. Our strategy is to continue to recruit world class players in the seasons ahead".



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