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Dublin: 4 °C Wednesday 11 December, 2019
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'I felt like I was at home here' - Aki and Dillane saw Connacht as best option

The centre and lock explain why they signed new contracts with the western province.

BUNDEE AKI SAYS that staying with Connacht was an easy decision to make.

Ireland international lock Ultan Dillane says he, too, had no doubts about remaining at the Sportsground following last season’s success, when the province won the Guinness Pro12.

Bundee Aki and Ultan Dillane Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“It was a fairly easy decision for me to make,” said Aki this afternoon in Galway. “There was a few people knocking on doors but I felt like I was at home here.

“I feel happy here – there are a great bunch of boys around me and great people around Galway.”

Aki, last season’s Pro12 player of the year, has signed a three-year contract extension, with Dillane penning a new two-year deal.

“We just want to keep going the way we are going,” said 22-year-old Dillane, who grew up in Tralee having been born in Paris.

“Obviously, we did some great things last year and we have our goals again for this season. It’s all positive things.”

Dillane played underage rugby for Munster but came through the Connacht academy and has now made 34 appearances for Pat Lam’s side.

Head coach Lam said it was a huge boost for the pair to remain at the Sportsground.

There was so much attention on them, they had options,” said Lam. “There is no doubt that people on-shore and off-shore were very keen on these two players.”

Meanwhile, chief executive Willie Ruane hit out at the nature of some of the speculation linking Aki and Dillane to moves elsewhere.

“I was slightly bemused by some of the speculation,” said Ruane. ”Speculation is one thing, statement of fact in some cases was absolutely bizarre.”

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Daragh Small

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