Muldoon praise for 'phenomenal' Aki
Connacht captain John Muldoon says Bundee Aki's consistent performances have been a key to the province's unprecedented success this season.
The Samoan centre was crowned Guinness Pro12 player of the year on Sunday after playing an influential role for the westerners as they finished second on the table and earned a home semi-final against Glasgow Warriors on Saturday week.
The experienced skipper has seen overseas signings come and go at the Sportsground, but says few have brought the enthusiasm of Aki who bought into Pat Lam's side from the get-go.
"He's been absolutely phenomenal," Muldoon said. "He came with a big reputation and you could understand why Leinster and Munster were disappointed not to sign him. He's been exceptional.
"The leadership he shows on the pitch and the fact that all the lads, all the crowd, everyone gets behind him and he seems to feed off that - the more the crowd get going, the more Bundee enjoys it and at the moment, the way the Sportsground is, they're in love with Bundee and he's feeding off that.
"He's been absolutely superb, every game this year he's played exceptionally well and it's great to see. His confidence is high and the way he goes about it during the week, he trains just as hard as he plays and that's a big learning curve for some of the younger fellas.
"The tendency when you're younger is you have massive peaks and as a group over the years we've been able to have big performances but not been able to back it up.
"Bundee can produce a big performance and come out and train well all week and that's been a huge learning curve for some of the younger fellas, to understand that the consistency is massive.
"When you've got someone leading from the front like that as Bundee has all year and to back it up with training every week, that's huge. Hopefully he's got a few more big performances before the end of the year.
"Teams will try and stop him doing what he does but the fact he's still playing well every week shows that he's evolving his game."