Sunday 30 April 2017

Aki coy on Ireland future as eligibility looms large

Connacht's Bundee Aki. Photo: Sportsfile
Connacht's Bundee Aki. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Bundee Aki has reiterated his desire to play international rugby, but won't be drawn on whether he will line out for Joe Schmidt's Ireland later this year.

Under the three-year residency rule, the Connacht centre will be eligible for selection for Ireland by the time the autumn internationals roll around. However, he also qualifies for New Zealand and Samoa.

"You're right, I do want to play at the highest level, which is international rugby, but I need to focus on Connacht," he replied, when asked about his international future.

"I can't think ahead of myself. Ireland have quality players. Geez, they have a lot of good players there. I can't parachute my way in there.

"I 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."

Historic A key part of Connacht's historic Guinness Pro12 win last season, Aki signed a new three-year deal with the province at the start of the current campaign, prompting speculation he was ready to join the likes of CJ Stander and commit to an international career in green.

However, he has since voiced his displeasure at Pat Lam's decision to quit Galway for Bristol at the end of the current campaign.

And Aki, who has been named in the Barbarians' squad to face Ulster and England this summer, says he's unsure what factors will ultimately help him make his decision.

"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."

Irish Independent

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