Piutau, who has played for Ulster for the past two seasons, will become the world’s highest-paid player when he joins Bristol at the end of the current PRO14 campaign.
The 25-year-old, who was named PRO12 player of the season last year, admits his motives for leaving New Zealand were purely financial as he simply wants to provide for his family.
“Every Pacific Island kid is on the same boat,” he told the Daily Mail. “Some would rather stay back, play X number of Tests and become a great All Black. For me, I came to the conclusion that, man, that wasn’t me. My family is going to be with me for ever and they’re the people closest to me. Rugby’s not for ever and I want to be able to look after my parents.
“They left their friends and family in Tonga to give us a chance to chase our dream. My dad was a bartender, battery company worker, taxi driver. He had all sorts of jobs at the same time to look after us kids. People will have their opinions but they don’t know the sacrifices my parents made.”
Meanwhile, Piutau has no regrets over the decision to rule himself out of All Black contention at just 25.
“I loved every second with the All Blacks,’ says Piutau, who was left out of the 2015 World Cup squad after announcing his first move to Europe would come in 2016.
“I still have my jerseys back at home. They were the best feelings. I played 17 Tests and was lucky enough to win them all.
“Hearing I didn’t make the World Cup was the hardest phone call I’ve had in my career. I was sat in the kitchen with my parents and I’d been waiting by the phone for 10 days. I just remember the words, ‘Sorry, we’re going with someone else’. My heart dropped. It was my dream back then, but that’s the reality of sport.”
That leads on to the million-dollar question: in this unique story of faith meeting fortune, will we see Piutau back in an All Blacks jersey?
“To be honest, probably not,” Piutau said.
“If there was a time, it would have been at the end of this season, instead of going to Bristol. I’m really happy. I’m 25 and I’ve left that chapter behind. I’ve left that there. I just want to stay here now. Yeah … that’s how it is.”