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Dublin: 5 °C Thursday 20 February, 2020

'When the time arises it arises': Bundee Aki remains tight-lipped on Ireland prospects

The Connacht centre qualifies for Ireland in October, but also has the option of representing his native New Zealand and Samoa through his parentage.

CONNACHT CENTRE BUNDEE Aki has refused to be drawn on whether he will declare his international allegiance to Ireland later this year, insisting he has yet to make a decision on his future.

The 27-year-old Kiwi becomes eligible to play for Ireland this October by virtue of the three-year residency rule but also has the option to represent New Zealand and Samoa.

Bundee Aki Aki becomes eligible to play for Ireland in October 2017. Source: Craig Watson/INPHO

Aki committed his future to Connacht last October by signing a new three-year contract with the western province and it is widely expected he will be capped by Joe Schmidt during this year’s November Internationals.

Speaking in Dublin earlier today, the New Zealand native remained tight-lipped on his international aspirations instead reiterating that his sole focus is on finishing the season strongly with Connacht.

“I do want to play at the highest level, which is international rugby, but I need to focus on Connacht,” he said.

“I can’t think ahead of myself. Ireland have quality players. Jeez, they have a lot of good players there. I can’t parachute my way in there. I’ve got to just put my head down and do what I want to do, perform week in week out, perform consistently.

“When the time arises it arises but for the moment my focus is just Connacht.”

Since arriving at the Sportsground in 2014, Aki has been outstanding for Pat Lam’s Connacht and the explosive centre was an integral figure in the province’s Guinness Pro12 title win last year.

When asked how he will come to his decision, Aki added: “Jeez, I haven’t really thought about how I am going to make that decision.

“I have been asked that question a few times and I know people think I have been thinking about it but I really haven’t. I’ve only just come back from injury. All I want to do is keep my performance up to a high standard. That’s all I can do.”

Bundee Aki was speaking at the launch of the new partnership between Kinetica Sports, Ireland’s leading sports nutritional brand and Hell & Back; Ireland’s toughest physical and mental endurance challenge. 

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Ryan Bailey

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