CM – « Bundee brings aggression, he brings physicality » – Connacht trainer Andy Friend welcomes Lion Aki’s surprise

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The entire Connacht squad gathered in the changing rooms of the sports field this afternoon, more in hope than in anticipation. No doubt the roar of the provinces could be heard when Jason Leonard announced the second lion on his list.

Bundee Aki becomes Connacht’s fourth lion, along with Ray McLoughlin (1966, 1971), John O’Driscoll (1980, 1983 ) and Ciaran Fitzgerald, who commanded the tourists in 1983.

Robbie Henshaw is of course the first Provincial Academy product to become a Lion in the professional era, and he could reunite with Aki in the Lions midfield in South Africa, after the native Athlone was named in the squad for his second tour.

Connacht trainer Andy Friend was pleased to receive recognition from Aki, who has just spent a frustrated stay on the sidelines due to a suspension.

« Fantastic news , we were all sitting in the locker room and watching TV. There was hope that Bundee could get there, probably a distant hope, but when it happened there was tremendous cheer and cheer in the area, « he said.

 » It was due credit to a man who who has made many sacrifices – both for him and his family.

« He’s a damn good footballer, for Connacht, for Ireland and for the British and Irish Lions – it’s a huge compliment to him. » / p> Auckland-born Aki joined Connacht in 2014 and qualified for residency in Ireland in 2017. After his debut against South Africa, he was a key player in the 2018 Grand Slam and has won 31 international matches.

« Knowing on the field You what you will get. With the ball in hand, he will move forward for you. Without the ball in hand, he will work hard to get the ball back for you. He brings aggression, he brings physicality, which I think they’ll need against South Africa.

« Outside of the field, he has an amazing ability to brighten a room and give positive energy to a group.

 » He is one of the rugby characters and on an eight-week tour like the one the Lions will be doing, you will need someone like him. « 

The province is extremely proud that Aki is going to South Africa this summer.

« It’s like Bundee is with us now. Robbie was with us before. To have two men on this tour is a great appreciation for all the hard work, all the people who put in the hours, weeks, months Building the organization has stuck to be a real competitor at all levels, « he said.

 » There we are now, we now have our fourth British and Irish Lions, who along with the other three and a guy in Robbie Henshaw, who was also a very important part of the club, a « Get it when you get to Connacht. » You have the opportunity to play and show yourself and improve your skills on the rugby field.

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