Charles Piutau: fullback, winger, centre?
January 20, 2014
Charles Piutau finished 2013 in the Barbarians jumper © Getty Images
Charles Piutau is happy to play where required for the Blues, but he wants Sir John Kirwan's decisions to help rather than hinder his All Blacks hopes.
Piutau enjoyed a breakout Super Rugby season in 2013, his standout form at fullback seeing him win All Blacks selection and play Test rugby on both wings. Hence Piutau is happy to play on the wing for the Blues, with National Rugby League code-hopper Benji Marshall perhaps likely to gain selection at fullback. But Blues management have also given thought to him starting at centre, and the All Blacks have a vacancy with Conrad Smith on sabbatical and Ben Smith failing to convince at No.13 on the end-of-year tour.
"I said I was open to playing centre," Piutau told Fairfax Media.
"At the same time it depends on where the All Blacks saw me. I don't want to be playing in a position that's going to hinder my chances. I want to be practising a position to get better at it
"In the All Blacks I really enjoyed playing on the wing. Before I didn't see it that way. Playing at that level, I had fun. Coming back to the Blues, I don't mind where I play."
Piutau, equally, is aware of the pitfalls of trying to cover too many positions, especially with outside centre the most challenging defensive role in backline.
"Understanding different roles, it's easy to get them mixed up," Piutau told Fairfax Media. "It's always tough to go into a new position. There are always expectations to slot in straight away."
And he acknowledges that he cannot afford to go backwards this year if he is to make the Rugby World Cup 2015 squad.
"It doesn't seem too far away," he said of the global showpiece. "That's why this year is so important, leading into something like that. I just want to play."
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