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Pat Lam has responded to 'Charles Piutau is leaving Bristol' reports

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Bob Bradford/CameraSport via Getty Images)

Bristol boss Pat Lam has refused to confirm that Charles Piutau will definitely leave the Bears at the end of the current season. Comments made by the director of rugby in the wake of last Friday night’s record Gallagher Premiership win over Northampton were interpreted as a verification that the current Tongan and former All Blacks international was set to depart Ashton Gate after five stellar seasons.


However, asked to clarify the media speculation that the full-back was allegedly in the final few months of a stint in Bristol that began in 2018, Lam played down the headlines that claimed Piutau was certainly exiting. Here is what was said at about the hot topic at his latest media briefing on Wednesday ahead of this Sunday’s home Premiership clash with Harlequins:

Journalist 1: I read reports that Charles won’t be at the club next year. Are you able to clarify the situation?

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Lam: Well, it is ongoing as we go through. As I always say on recruitment, every time I get news there is facts. That is when the news comes so at this stage, as soon as I have news on that then we will announce it appropriately.

Journalist 1: So as a fact, no decision has been made despite what we read earlier in the week?


Lam: As a fact there is nothing I am saying on it at the moment.


Journalist 2: So just to clarify with Piutau, is there still a chance of him staying at the club?

Lam: Again, I’ll let everybody know.

That media exchange took place at the training ground on Wednesday the day after Lam’s Friday night Ashton Gate comments were finally published locally in the Bristol Post alleging that the coach had confirmed for the first time that Piutau was leaving.

That report began: “Pat Lam has confirmed for the first time on record that former All Black superstar Charles Piutau will leave Bristol Bears at the end of the season.


“The news has long been expected in Bear country with Lam announcing earlier in the season the club have secured the services of England full-back Max Malins, 26, from Saracens ahead of the 2023/24 season.”

It then quoted Lam: “I mean he [Piutau] is class. The day when we announced that Charles was signing and that Semi (Radradra) was signing, I made it very clear that this wasn’t just for the Bears, it was for the Premiership. It’s a privilege for us that he [Piutau] is playing for the Bears, but it’s a huge privilege that we have these two rock stars of world rugby playing in the Premiership.

“Unfortunately, with the salary cap being reduced and the way that everything is, they will move on, but it has been a privilege to have them because it elevates our team, but it also elevates the Premiership.”


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