Sunday 30 April 2017

'I can't parachute my way in there' - Bundee Aki coy on the prospect of playing for Ireland

15 October 2016; Bundee Aki of Connacht celebrates after scoring his side's third try of the match during the European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 2 Round 1 match between Connacht and Toulouse at the Sportsground in Galway. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
15 October 2016; Bundee Aki of Connacht celebrates after scoring his side's third try of the match during the European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 2 Round 1 match between Connacht and Toulouse at the Sportsground in Galway. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

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

Under the residency rule, the Connacht centre will be eligible for selection for Ireland by the time the Autumn internationals roll around, but he also qualifies for New Zealand and Samoa.

And while he is widely expected to earn his first cap in the series against South Africa, Argentina and a Tier two nation, he refused to confirm his intentions.

“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.”

A key part of Connacht’s historic 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 commit to Ireland.

However, he has since voiced his displeasure at Connacht coach 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, insists 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.”

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