Charles Piutau, the former All Black utility back, who is joining Bristol for next season on a two-year deal from Ulster, is said to have an eye on playing for Tonga in the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
Piutau, who is believed to be the world’s highest paid rugby player on around £1 million per season, gained 17 caps for the All Blacks between 2013 and 2015 but was overlooked for the last World Cup squad after signing for Ulster.
The 26-year-old will be linking up with his brother, Siale, the Tongan captain, who joined Bristol in January 2017 from Japanese club Yamaha Jubilo, having previously played in the Aviva Premiership for Wasps.
Tonga coach Toutai Kefu told Radio New Zealand that the former Tongan U20 was keen and would add real quality to the national side and that Piutau was joining a club that had the interests of Pacific Island players at heart.
Kefu added: “I’ve spoken to him a few times and he’s very determined to play for Tonga so we’re very happy about that. Pat Lam really understands our plight and understands that these Pacific Islander players are very keen to play for their country whenever possible.”