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New Connacht signing Bundee Aki is forthright in targeting Irish caps

‘Hopefully when the time is right and if I’m playing good footy, I can play for the Ireland international team.’

Aki scores for the Chiefs in Super Rugby.
Aki scores for the Chiefs in Super Rugby.
Image: Photosport/Anthony Au-Yeung/INPHO

CONNACHT ANNOUNCED THE coup of Chiefs centre Bundee Aki over the weekend, with the 24-year-old set to join at the conclusion of the 2014 ITM Cup.

A three-year contract gave clear indication that Aki was being signed as a ‘project player,’ with the view that he ultimately possesses the potential to line out for Ireland.

The player himself was open and honest regarding that aspect of his future transfer in an interview with New Zealand-based website Rugby Heaven, outlining his hope to wear green at international level.

“That’s a big part of my decision to move. Hopefully when the time is right and if I’m playing good footy, hopefully I can play for the Ireland international team.

I’ve got to play well before that though. I’m eligible for Samoa. That was another big decision for myself – to see if I would play for them or not. If I play three years over there [in Ireland] and it doesn’t go well, I can always go back to Samoa.

“They are a good international team as well but I’m just trying to look after my family and myself.”

All Blacks competition

The scheduled return of Sonny Bill Williams to the Chiefs next season partly sparked Aki’s decision, while the competition for an All Blacks call up at first-five-eighth is extensive.

“It was a really tough decision. It’s a long commitment. I put a lot of thought into it, looking at my options in terms of international rugby.

“Obviously the All Blacks have got their midfielders and with Sonny coming back, it’s a not a bad thing for me to go. Hopefully, if I do the hard yards over there [Ireland], good things will come.”

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