Wynne Gray 's Opinion

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: Piutau performance hard to ignore

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Charles Piutau  showed all his talent against the Hurricanes in a display which would have piqued the interest of spectating All Black coach Steve Hansen. Photo / Getty Images
Charles Piutau showed all his talent against the Hurricanes in a display which would have piqued the interest of spectating All Black coach Steve Hansen. Photo / Getty Images

In the last few rounds of Super 15, Blues fullback Charles Piutau has been subdued, compared to his normal high-action involvement. Sides have kicked away from him or found him in space where his counter-attack choices have been restricted.

You can sense his frustration with some of the decisions the 21-year- old has been making. There have been times when you have wanted to leave your seat at Eden Park and advise Piutau to pass to some of his team-mates steaming up in support.

Some of his blinkered vision or attempts to beat just one more defender are exasperating.

But Piutau showed all his talent against the Hurricanes in a display which would have piqued the interest of spectating All Black coach Steve Hansen.

He is gifted and, like many young men who are headline acts at secondary school and age group level, they have to go through some re-training before they can be effective in the senior grades. Piutau has been one of those projects.

The Blues staff do not want to restrict any of the venom he brings to the back three.

Piutau's value is the brilliance he can conjure from the back field or when he lopes up into the attacking line;e his defence is very sound. He has a devastating step and manages to bounce strong defenders away with the power generated from his hips and thighs.

If Piutau didn't have so much ability, he would not come under such scrutiny - but he got it right early last night at Eden Park as he raided down the shortside with Frank Halai.

Then he showed some real class. He retrieved a kick near his 22, kicked a shortish bomb and clobbered the Hurricanes defender to give the Blues a scrum advantage. That sort of enterprise and skill is instinct.

There is a little bit of coaching, some training ground chats to talk him through a variety of situations on the field - but, when the heat comes on and Piutau operates in the inferno of Super 15, his impulses take over much of his play.

Not long after that classy cameo, Piutau offered us the other side of his work, when he made the gap and ignored his support.

His superb try just before halftime from a scrum move, did not need any offload, just catch and scorch, areas in which Piutau excels. He is in good hands at the Blues where former All Black coach Graham Henry and skills coach Mick Byrne take him through regular game scenarios to fine-tune his impact.

He must also be on the All Black radar as someone to challenge Israel Dagg and Ben Smith and who needs that sort of trip if he is going to return to Europe in 2015 for a certain global tournament.

- NZ Herald

Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

NZ Herald senior rugby writer Wynne Gray has been covering the All Blacks for almost 25 years and has attended more than 230 All Blacks tests live for the Herald.

Read more by Wynne Gray

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