Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Piutau in top form

Charles Piutau after scoring a try during the match against the Hurricanes. Photo / Getty Images
Charles Piutau after scoring a try during the match against the Hurricanes. 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.

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 being effective in the senior grades.

Piutau's value is the brilliance he can conjure from the back field or when he lopes up into the attacking line his defence is very sound.

He has a devastating step and bounces strong defenders away.

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.

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 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.

- Herald on Sunday

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