The Blues are keen to retain the services of Charles Piutau for the 2016 Super Rugby season.
While he is taking up a two-year contract with Irish club Ulster, it does not begin until July 2016, and Piutau is keen to play for the Blues next season.
The Blues and All Black back today confirmed the decision to move to Ulster, citing it as and extremely tough decision.
ìI can assure Blues fans that I have been through an intense past few weeks consulting with friends, family, team mates, my church and other various people of my support team to make this decision,î Piutau said today.
ìI am looking forward to a new challenge of living in a new country, experiencing a new culture and playing a different style of rugby. And I want to continue to be able to support my family.
“It’s a two-year plan which I believe will further develop me both as a player and as a person.”
The Blues said they are disappointed but supportive of Piutau.
“It outlines a wider issue for the game in New Zealand with a number of players making a decision to play their rugby overseas,” said Blues CEO Michael Redman.
“We will see a number of players re-signing for the Blues and NZ Rugby this year and some more who will decide to take up these lucrative offers. Each case is different.
“But we also see with the likes of Jerome Kaino and Rene Ranger that players also come back to us and therefore it is important to leave the door open where we can.”
Redman said Piutau is an exemplary character and a key contributor on and off the field and a firm favourite with the Blues fans.
“We are naturally disappointed that Charles will not be with us after 2016 but accept his decision and look forward to his return to the Blues in the future.”