Bristol pull off Piutau coup

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Championship side Bristol have agreed a deal to sign New Zealand utility back Charles Piutau from Ulster ahead of the 2018-19 season.

The Pro12 Players' Player of the Season will link up with ambitious Bristol next year for what the club hope will be a return to the Premiership.

Piutau, who can operate at full-back, on the wing or at centre, will stay with Ulster for the inaugural Pro14 campaign before linking up with his brother, Siale, in the West Country.

Bristol have described the acquisition of the 25-year-old, capped 16 times by the All Blacks, on a two-year deal as one of biggest coups in the club's history.

"One of our key focuses is about the journey that Bristol Rugby are on - Charles' signing for the 2018-19 season demonstrates that we have a long-term plan and structure in place," Bristol head coach Pat Lam said.

"We're thrilled to have an individual of his immense quality and experience to add to our ranks. As somebody who has worked with Charles previously, I know what an influential player he is on and off the field."

Piutau said: "To join Bristol Rugby and be part of the vision that Pat Lam and his coaching team has is very appealing to me.

"I understand the challenges that lie ahead for the club but firmly believe Bristol can once again become a major force in English and European rugby."