GUINNESS PRO12: Ulster’s Charles Piutau driven by expectation

Charles Piutau scoring for Ulster in a recent PRO12 match
Charles Piutau scoring for Ulster in a recent PRO12 match
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It was a frustrating night for Ulster collectively and Charles Piutau individually against Cardiff at Kingspan Stadium last Friday.

A 24-24 draw coupled with the Scarlets bonus point win over Treviso meant Ulster dropped out of the Guinness PRO12 play-off places with only three games remaining.

Piutau leads the PRO12 in clean breaks (24) and defenders beat (62) but was well shackled by the Blues defence.

“A lot of games you always have to adjust and sometimes get a lot of ball, and sometimes (like Cardiff) you’re trying to find ways to get involved,” said the All Black.

“I try to make use of whatever opportunity I do get.

“We left a lot of opportunities out there last week. When it comes to these big games, you don’t get many opportunities, so you have to finish them.

“We’ve been working hard on our structures and stuff this week, but it’s down to our passion and desire to front up and give everything we can, as we know we will be tested.

“We have to look at ourselves and bring our individual parts to the game as a collective.

“Personally, for me it’s all about wanting to win, win every game, and hopefully win championships.

“The expectation has always been there, for me it’s always wanting to be the best I can be in every game, and helping the team, that’s all I can do.”

Ulster travel to Thomond Park on Saturday to face Munster and a win for the Limerick side would virtually guarantee them a home semi-final.

“There has been a lift in intensity and everyone is more excited and taking on this challenge and preparing as best that we can to put on our best performance come Saturday,” said Piutau.

“I guess with the game on Friday, we had two days to take the learnings from it, there is no use worrying about it.

“We understand as a team that we cannot dwell on any other negatives in the past but learn from that and move forward.

Tomorrow will be Piutau’s first experience of Thomond Park.

“I’ve heard a lot, and seen a lot from the TV. It looks like an awesome place to play rugby in, and I’m excited to get the opportunity to play there.

“I feed of that of that noise and the atmosphere. For me, almost as if they are cheering for me although I know they’re cheering against me, that’s the way I’ve always seen it playing against hostile crowds at away games.”

The 16-time capped All Black will come up against a few fellow Kiwis.

“I played a lot with Francis Saili in New Zealand, and it’s great to see him back from injury to give him a chance.

“Tyler Bleyendaal, he’s a bit older than me, we played against each other a couple of times in super rugby.

“He’s been in good form this year and doing well for the team and leading around the field, hopefully we can contain him,” added Piutau.