Connacht announce signing of Super XV winner Bundee Aki
Connacht has bolstered their midfield options for next season with the signing centre Bundee Aki from the reigning Super XV champions the Chiefs.
New Zealand born centre Bundee Aki, 24, has signed a three year deal with Connacht Rugby and the IRFU and will file the void left by Eoin Griffin who will be joining London Irish and the retirement of Kyle Tonetti.
Aki has exploded on to the big stage under the expert tutelage of Wayne Smith, Tana Umaga and Dave Rennie who has described the young player as "a very quick, aggressive and evasive ball carrier” and defensively “destructive”.
Bundee is a competitive character who is destructive defensively."
Aki made 12 appearances in midfield scoring six tries in his debut season for the Chiefs on their way to winning the title and appeared in every national provincial premiership game for the Counties Manukau Steelers
"This is a fantastic coup for Connacht. It's great to be able to replace the loss of Eoin Griffin and Kyle Tonetti with the calibre of a player like Bundee,” head coach Pat Lam said.
“He is only 24 years old and has already shown with the Chiefs and Counties Manukau what a thrilling prospect he is for the game.”
"It's very exciting to be adding him to our young Irish qualified back line here at Connacht and he will bring a real attacking edge in midfield.
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"He is a hard-working and talented individual and I believe that he will greatly contribute to the Connacht culture we've been developing and the vision we have laid out for the team. We're very much looking forward to welcoming him to the club."
Aki, who started in the Chief’s victory over Melbourne Rebels today has said he is eagerly looking forward to joining up with his new teammates.
“This is a huge opportunity for me and my family and I'm really excited by the new challenge,” he said today.
“ I spoke with Pat (Lam) and was very impressed with the aspirations he and the team have for the club and its future. It's definitely something I want to be a part of.”
"Right now, I'm excited about getting back to playing with the Chiefs, where I've thoroughly enjoyed my time. “There is a lot of rugby to be played before I start the next chapter with Connacht."
Aki will move to Connacht at the conclusion of the New Zealand ITM Cup season.