Sunday 22 January 2017

Henshaw reunion will have 'bite' - Aki

Declan Rooney

Published 27/10/2016 | 02:30

Aki: “When you come across a good mate there is always going to be a bite in it.
Aki: “When you come across a good mate there is always going to be a bite in it." Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Bundee Aki is expecting a 'bite' in the challenge when he faces down Robbie Henshaw in a Leinster shirt for the first time on Saturday.

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Together Henshaw and Aki played a huge role in Connacht's Pro12 Grand Final win over Leinster last May, but now that the Athlone man has jumped ship and has forged an impressive partnership with Garry Ringrose, Aki is ready to meet him head on.

"Obviously Robbie is one of the world-class players that we have here in Ireland. He is playing really good rugby alongside Ringrose and it will be a challenge for me to make sure I settle into my game and make sure that I can perform the same way I can," said Aki.

"When you come across a good mate there is always going to be a bite in it. You're out there to try and prove yourself (to see) who can be the better player. Obviously Robbie can show what he can do, and I can show what we can do. But it's good for Irish rugby when (you have) two good midfielders. Plus he has got good midfielders alongside him, the likes of Ringrose.

"But we've got Peter Robb, Craig Ronaldson is playing really well and guys there are filling in like Shane O'Leary. It's about us trying to play to our system and to our strength and making sure that we are able to hold him (Henshaw) down with Ringrose, because they have a pretty good combination at the moment."

Defeats to Glasgow and Ospreys in their first two games as champions was a shocking start to Connacht's season, but since then they have gradually found their Pro12-winning form.

A win against Ulster before the Champions Cup was a huge boost, but stylish victories against Toulouse and Zebre has mood in the camp on a high once more.

And Aki thinks that if Connacht stick to their plan they have the ability to down their eastern rivals for the third game in a row.

"Confidence is always there with us. If you are not confident in what you are doing things will go wrong. It is a big confidence for us especially how we started the season.

"We didn't start it well and we just slowly built into it. But boys trusted in each other and in what we need to do, but we are slowly getting there.

"It's another challenge for us this weekend against Leinster, another world-class team that we have to try and overcome. We have just got to make sure we play our game and stick to our guns, and play really well."

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