Bundee Aki and Ultan Dillane sign new Connacht contracts

Aki, who will qualify to represent Ireland in autumn 2017, has penned a three year deal

Connacht have confirmed the contract renewals of New Zealand born centre Bundee Aki and Irish international secondrow Ultan Dillane, ensuring an excellent 10 days on and off the pitch. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Connacht have confirmed the contract renewals of New Zealand born centre Bundee Aki and Irish international secondrow Ultan Dillane, ensuring an excellent 10 days on and off the pitch. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Connacht have confirmed the contract renewals of New Zealand born centre Bundee Aki and Irish international secondrow Ultan Dillane, ensuring an excellent 10 days on and off the pitch.

Unbeaten through the opening two weekends of the Champions Cup with victories over Toulouse and Zebre, the news that they have re-signed, two important players fending off interest from other parties is an important fillip.

The Pro12 champions have also been boosted by the news new signing Marnitz Boshoff has been passed fit to commence full first team training after coming through a medical examination on Tuesday.

Tiernan O’Halloran will also return to training this week ahead of Saturday’s clash with Leinster.

Meanwhile Aki, who will qualify to represent Ireland in autumn 2017, has penned a three year deal to take him up to the summer of 2020. Since arriving in 2014, the charismatic centre has made 47 appearances for Connacht and was instrumental in the province’s Guinness Pro12 title success last season.

His skill set, physicality, and work rate on and off the ball saw him earn plenty of recognition in the sporting world and in the last campaign the New Zealander was voted the Pro12 and Connacht Rugby Player of the Year.

Aki said: “The last two years with Connacht have been incredible. I moved over here not really knowing what to expect but this place has become home to me and my family now. I am proud to be part of this Connacht team and I’m excited to see what we can achieve together.”

The 22-year-old Dillane signed a two-year contract extension to his current deal. He made his Ireland debut against England in this year’s Six Nations Championship against England at Twickenham and played a further four tests, including two against the Springboks during the summer tour.

He admitted: “Connacht Rugby has given me so many opportunities since I started in the Academy and I’m delighted to have signed on again. I am enjoying my rugby so much here and am excited about the future of this team and the province.”

Connacht coach Pat Lam said: “I’m really pleased that Bundee and Ultan have committed their futures to Connacht Rugby. Two talented rugby players, naturally their performances have attracted a lot of attention and there is no doubt that they had options in terms of where they could play. But I believe it is a massive statement about what we are doing here as a team and an organisation that they were both so determined to continue to play their part.”

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