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Bundee Aki: 'I got emotional - my mum hasn’t seen me play for eight or nine years'

Aki captained Ireland in front of friends and family in Hamilton tonight.

Aki presents the Maori All Blacks with a jersey.
Aki presents the Maori All Blacks with a jersey.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

HERE IN HAMILTON, BUNDEE Aki spoke with emotion about the importance of captaining his adopted country in front of his mother.

It is nine years since Aki’s mum last saw him play live. When he spoke about the ‘privilege’ of leading Ireland out tonight, with his mother in attendance, Aki had to fight back the tears.

It was that kind of evening. Prior to the game, Aki laid an Ireland jersey, numbered 11, on the turf, a tribute to the former Chiefs and Maori left-winger, Sean Wainui, who died in a car accident last year.

Wainui’s wife and children were there to collect the shirt.

“It was a huge privilege to do that,” said Aki. “Seanie had such a bright future and we wanted to show respect to him and his family.

“To be honest, I got emotional. That was the kind of night it was. It was an honour to lead Ireland out – an honour to do so in front of my family. Obviously my mum hasn’t seen me play for eight or nine years so it was great to be able to do that.”

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The result, however, was far from great. Ireland’s 32-17 loss was as comprehensive as the scoreline suggests, the damage done in an 11-minute period before half-time when the Maori All Blacks scored 24 unanswered points.

“The message at half-time was that we just had to believe in ourselves; we certainly looked each other in the eye and believed we could do a better job in the second half.

“The boys put their hands up especially some of the younger players.”

About the author:

Garry Doyle  / reports from Hamilton

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