Bundee Aki signs three-year IRFU contract extension

New Zealand-born centre has been with Connacht since joining in 2014

Connacht’s Bundee Aki has signed a new IRFU contract for three years. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Connacht’s Bundee Aki has signed a new IRFU contract for three years. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

Ireland and Connacht centre Bundee Aki has signed a three year contract extension that will keep him at the Sportsground until the end of the 2022-2023 season. The 29-year-old has been on an IRFU central contract, wholly funded by the union, for the past two years and his signature represents a significant coup for the province and Irish rugby.

Aki joined Connacht in 2014 and since then has made 92 appearances, scoring 18 tries. He was an important figure in the province’s Pro12 triumph, which included a final victory over Leinster. He was selected as the Pro12 Player of the season in that tournament winning year.

The New Zealand-born centre made his Ireland debut in November, 2017 against South Africa at the Aviva stadium and has gone on to win 23 caps, crossing for four tries. In 2018 he played all five matches in Ireland’s Grand Slam Six Nations success and also started in the win at home to the All Blacks.

In the recent Rugby World Cup in Japan he played against Scotland, Russia and Samoa in the pool stages of the competition.

IRFU performance director David Nucifora said: “Bundee has added significant value to both the Ireland and Connacht environments. He has performed at a consistently high level, is a leader and has a positive impact on younger players around him with his insight and the professionalism and diligence of his preparation. We are delighted that he will continue to play a positive role in Irish rugby for years to come.

Connacht head coach Andy Friend was similarly upbeat: “Bundee has been an incredible player for Connacht since his arrival in the Sportsground. He has completely embraced every aspect of life in the West of Ireland and has driven standards among the playing group. He shares the ambition that we have for the seasons ahead and what he can achieve as a Connacht player. His commitment for a further three seasons is a sign of the energy and passion he has for the province.”

Aki admitted: “I am grateful for the opportunity I have been given to represent both Connacht and Ireland and am delighted to extend my IRFU contract. The whole of Connacht have been incredibly supportive of both me and my family and the Ireland supporters have been fantastic from the very first day I was selected for the national squad. Connacht has become home to me and my family and I want to play my part in helping Connacht achieve their ambitious plans in the years to come.”

Willie Ruane, Connacht Rugby CEO, commented: “Connacht Rugby is delighted that Bundee has extended his contract to 2023. This is the third time that Bundee has committed to Connacht which reflects not only his belief in what we are doing but also our commitment in supporting him.”

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