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Bundee Aki Gives Strongest Indication Yet That His International Future Could Be Away From Ireland

Bundee Aki Gives Strongest Indication Yet That His International Future Could Be Away From Ireland
By John Balfe

Last season's Pro 12 player of the season Bundee Aki's international future is in doubt after he gave the strongest indication yet that he might see his international future as being away from the green of Ireland.

The New Zealand born player will qualify to play for Ireland via the three-year residency rule in October of 2017 but the first real indication of whether the storming centre will opt for Ireland will be given when he begins contract renegotiations at some point in the next few months. Such has been Aki's form during his time in Galway that he will surely become hot property for clubs in England and France, as well as back home in New Zealand, and it is highly likely he will become the hottest of commodities as his Connacht contract ticks away.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6TjV74ujNM

Many Irish rugby fans will no doubt be hoping to see Aki replicate his form alongside Robbie Henshaw at test level but the 26-year-old has a trio of options when it comes to the international game: Ireland, New Zealand and Samoa.

As quoted by the Irish Times, Aki elaborated on his decision-making process:

Yeah, my ambition is still to play international rugby. When the time comes, when the time is right for me and when I’m ready for it, when the international coaches think I’m ready to play international, then I’ll put my hand up into it.

As for what colour jersey he would wearing, Aki kept his cards close to his chest but did make some remarks which could potentially be worrying for Irish rugby fans.

It’s wrong for me to say that I’m Irish. I could say I’ve enjoyed the culture, I like the environment I’m in in Ireland, but for me to say I’m Irish – that’s wrong for me to say, because I wasn’t born here. It’s wrong for me to take away from the guys who were born here and want to play for Ireland. I’m just here, and my ambition is to play international [rugby]. I like taking in the culture as an Irish person but it’s wrong for me to say I’m Irish.

Ireland have benefitted from the residency rules on numerous occasions in recent times with Richardt Strauss and, perhaps more notably, C.J. Stander both regular members of Joe Schmidt's Ireland squad.

See More: The South African Reaction To CJ Stander's Ireland Debut

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