Bull Steps up to Big League

SIONE Piutau is known to his friends simply as Bull.

It’s not because they doubt the sincerity of what he says.

Quite the contrary – Piutau calls it as he sees it.

It’s because of his size and the aggression with which he runs the ball and tackles on the footy field.

For the past five years that has been in the Ipswich Rugby League, where Piutau has been the big Bull in a small paddock.

This year Piutau has traded that in for a shot at the prime beef at the Rancho el Ipswich Jets.

The former Queensland schoolboys rugby union representative hasn’t done so half-heartedly.

He has dropped from 136 to 114kg and played for 30 minutes without being replaced in Ipswich’s trial win over the Sunshine Coast on Saturday.

“I just want to see where I can go one more time,” Piutau said.

“I don’t want to grow up not knowing where I could have played.”

Piutau wanted to test himself and was given the encouragement by fellow Jet Ramon Filipine, who he describes as his “brother”.

“We’ve grown up together since we were young,” Piutau said.

The transition hasn’t been easy.

“The first week was the worst,” said Piutau, whose facial expression at the memory indicated the pain he endured.

“And those four weeks before Christmas.

“But I didn’t think of quitting.

“I just had to stick in there.

“My goal was just to finish pre-season, not miss a training session and see where I was at.”

His attitude impressed his coaches and he was rewarded with trial time against the Penrith Panthers and in the top squad against the Sunshine Coast, where he got more than he bargained for.

Expecting to play in short bursts, Piutau was left on for the first half hour.

“I was going good actually,” he said.

“I knew when they didn’t pull me after 20 minutes, I was prepared for the 40.”

Piutau has always had enormous potential and was signed by the Canberra Raiders when he was 15.

He would go to the nation’s capital for regular training camps, but other priorities soon took over.

“I got into the nightlife and the partying,” he said.

But marriage and maturity mean the parties are no longer a priority.

Seeing what he can achieve in football is, prompting him to leave the Goodna Eagles at the end of 2010.

It was the club he had served for years, where he developed a reputation as the most feared forward in the IRL.

“That was why I went to Brothers,” Piutau said.

“At Goodna I was too big and too lazy. I just had to start fresh.

“Goodna was too comfortable.

“I could pull out of training.”

The year at Brothers, with their emphasis on discipline, proved the perfect stepping stone to the Jets.

Winning last year’s A-grade title was a bonus.

“The whole pre-season at Brothers helped me out,” Piutau said.

“At Brothers I knew I couldn’t hide.”

As Piutau’s fitness improved at Brothers, so did his on-field discipline.

In the previous four years for Goodna, Piutau appeared before the IRL judiciary more than any other player.

Last year he appeared just once and he maintains his innocence over that incident.

“I’m just trying to be aggressive with my running and tackling,” he said.

“That’s the way I’m trying to play.”


Sione Piutau

Age: 25

Junior club: Sunnybank

Favourite food: Spaghetti

Favourite movie: The Rock

Favourite TV show: Sons of Anarchy

Biggest influences: My wife Vika and Ramon Filipine