When Tonga takes on Ireland in their first World Cup match on Saturday, Charles Piutau, who formerly played for Ulster, says he is excited to compete against some of his old teammates.
The fullback spent two years at Kingspan Stadium, during which time he played alongside the Ireland three of Stuart McCloskey, Iain Henderson, and Rob Herring.
Piutau, who is now 31 years old, remarked, “I have very good memories.”
It’s a little strange to think that some of the guys I’ll be competing against were on that team, but I’m looking forward to having a nice time anyway.
Before making the move to Bristol in 2018, the player was a fan favorite as a utility back for Ulster, where he had previously played for Wasps and Auckland Blues.
“The chant [Stand Up For the Ulstermen] always comes to mind running out of the tunnel – the guys that were there, they were awesome and made me feel welcome,” Piutau continued.
Casey says that making his World Cup debut would be “unbelievable.”
Despite their team’s record win, Easterby, Farrell, and Sexton are all focused on getting better. “The more minutes Sexton can play, the better.”
Piutau was able to get an up-close look at the talents of McCloskey, Henderson, and Herring, and as Tonga continues to prepare for their match against Ireland in Nantes, he has a high opinion of the three players.
He stated, “I was lucky enough to play with Stuart at Ulster. I always knew he was good enough and should be playing for the national team.” “I was lucky enough to play with Stuart at Ulster.”
I’ve seen him continue to work on improving his offloads, and he’s always mentioned that he wants to be like Sonny Bill Williams in that regard. He has come a long way in terms of improving his game.
“What a player, what a talent Iain is, and a fantastic leader when I was at Ulster. When I was at Ulster. Just his inherent strength and work rate on the field; in the gym, he might not be able to lift the hardest weights, but he has that natural strength and a high work rate on the field.
“Rob is another player who, when I was at Ulster, I always believed was on the outside of the team, but the fact that he has been continuously featured for Ireland is a testament to him. It’s great to see the players I used to play with at Ulster getting regular playing time and being such a significant part of this Irish side.
“I’m sure that they will be telling everything about me to the Ireland team, but that’s the fun of it, and it will be good to see them on that field,” he said. “I’m sure that they will be telling everything about me.”
New eligibility requirements afforded Piutau the chance to play for Tonga after he had previously represented the All Blacks in 17 tests between the years of 2013 and 2015.
He is on the verge of making his first appearance in the World Cup and is well aware of how difficult of a challenge it will be to take on Ireland, who kicked off their tournament by trouncing Romania 82-8 the weekend before.
“It’s our first game, and what better way to test yourself than against the world’s number one ranked team,” Piutau said after the game. “It’s our first game.”
“This is going to be an exciting task for all of us. Despite the fact that Romania scored early, Ireland displayed remarkable composure, structure, and talent throughout the match.
“They were very clinical when opportunities presented themselves, and it is clear to see why they are the top-seeded team in the world,” said the commentator.