Charles Piutau: Representing Tonga would be a ‘huge honour’ for former All Black

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Charles Piutau last represented the All Blacks in 2015 when a World Cup squad omission motivated a decision to join Bristol Bears and ultimately become the world’s best-paid player.

Piutau has had his long-term ambition of representing his country of heritage, Tonga, prevented by rules and regulation. However, World Rugby’s eligibility change now allows the star full-back to do just that.

Keen to follow in his brother’s footsteps

The 30-year-old will be looking to follow in his brother Siale Piutau’s footsteps as he played for Tonga on 43 occasions.

“To represent Tonga and pull on a jersey, my brother’s done that and captained the team, so I think to follow in his steps will be a huge honour for myself. I know speaking to my parents, they would be really proud to see me put on the red jersey and represent the country of their birth,” Piutau told ABC’s Pacific Beat.

He believes that players making the commitment to Tonga will inspire other newly-eligible players to make the step as well.

“I’ve been in touch with a few players and I think that does help when they hear other players, not only myself, but the potential line-up that we could put together, and I think that brings a lot of excitement and makes guys, you know, want to take this step if they’re on the fence,” said Piutau.

Jason Taumalolo’s return to the Tongan rugby league side that made it to the World Cup semi-finals in 2017 is a notable moment in Tonga, one that Piutau believes could be used to aid success in the rugby union space.

“What Jason and the other guys in league have done I think’s a kind of blueprint, and has opened our eyes really to what can happen with the opportunity that lies ahead. I think if we can replicate something similar to that then it would be a success,” added Piutau.

The introduction of Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua to the Super Rugby Pacific tournament is a huge positive for Pacific rugby and Piutau did not close the door to running out for Moana Pasifika in future.

“I’ve been really happy to see that. Pacific Island teams and Moana Pasifika is based in my home area in terms of South Auckland, so you never know what the future may hold, but I love seeing what’s happening with both teams at the moment and I’m excited to see how they go in the Super Rugby competition.”

READ MORE: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck on his transition into a rugby union player

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