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Bundee Aki (born 7 April 1990) is a professional rugby union player who plays for Connacht in the Pro14 and the Ireland national team. Aki was born and grew up in New Zealand, of Samoan descent, and qualified for Ireland through residency. A centre, he has also played for New Zealand provincial team Counties Manukau and for the Chiefs in Super Rugby.

Bundee Aki
Birth nameFua Leiofi Bundellu Aki[1]
Date of birth (1990-04-07) 7 April 1990 (age 29)
Place of birthAuckland, New Zealand
Height1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
Weight101 kg (15.9 st; 223 lb)
SchoolManurewa High School
SpouseKayla Ielemia
Rugby union career
Position(s) Centre
Current team Connacht
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
2011–2014
2013–2014
2014–
Counties Manukau
Chiefs
Connacht
43
25
85
(50)
(50)
(80)
Correct as of 27 Dec 2018
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
2017– Ireland 12 (15)
Correct as of 17 November 2018

Aki has won a Super Rugby title with the Chiefs and a Pro12 title with Connacht. In 2015–16 he was named the league's player of the season.

Contents

Early lifeEdit

Aki was born in the Auckland suburb of Otahuhu,[2] to Hercules and Sautia Aki.[3] He was named Fua Leiofi, but was called Bundellu after the doctor who delivered him. The nickname "Bundee" was given to him by a rugby coach at under-age level.[4] Bundee was the second eldest of seven children, with two brothers and four sisters.[5]

Aki was a student at Manurewa High School where he played for the school's rugby team. He took a year out from a professional rugby career in 2011, when he worked as a bank teller at Westpac.[6]

Rugby careerEdit

Career in MalaysiaEdit

Aki played for the Borneo Eagles based in Sabah, East Malaysia.

Career in New ZealandEdit

Counties ManukauEdit

Aki began playing for Counties Manukau in the 2011 season. He made nine appearances for the side with five of these coming as starts, scoring three tries as they finished fourth in the Championship Division of the 2011 ITM Cup.[7] In the 2012 ITM Cup, he played 11 of the team's 12 games, starting on each occasion and scoring six tries.[7] Counties Manukau finished top of the Championship Division and won their play-off games against Southland and Otago, which earned the side promotion to the following year's Premiership Division.[8]

With Counties promoted to the Premiership Division, he played in all ten of their regular season games in the 2013 ITM Cup, starting eight of these, as the team qualified for the play-offs on their return to the top flight.[7] He also started in the team's play-off semi-final, a 41–10 defeat to Wellington.[9] Aki scored one try during the course of the season, with the score coming against Tasman in a 20–40 defeat.[10]

2014 was Aki's final season with Counties, as it had been announced earlier in the year that he would be leaving New Zealand to join Irish side Connacht. He started all ten games as Counties fifth, two points outside the playoff places, in the 2014 ITM Cup, but did not score any points.[7] Aki's final appearance for Counties Manukau came in the team's 41–18 victory over Auckland on 8 October 2014.[11]

ChiefsEdit

In September 2012, it was announced that Aki had signed for reigning Super Rugby champions the Chiefs, having been part of the side's development set up previously.[12] Aki came into the team for the 2013 Super Rugby season. He played in 13 of the side's 18 regular season games, starting 12 of these and scoring five tries, as Chiefs finished top of the table.[7] Aki also featured for the team in the play-offs coming off the bench after 48 minutes against Crusaders in the semi-final, and after 46 minutes in the final against the Brumbies as Chiefs won their second title in a row.[13][14]

Aki played ten times for Chiefs in the regular season of the 2014 season, starting seven of these matches and scoring three tries.[7] Chiefs finished sixth in the final standings of the league season, the final qualifying spot for the competition's play-off rounds. Aki started in the Chiefs' quarter-final game against the Brumbies, a replay of the previous year's final. Aki scored his fourth try of the season, but finished on the losing side as the Brumbies won the game by 32–30.[15] This was Aki's final game for the Chiefs, as it had been announced earlier in the year that he would be moving to Irish side, Connacht.[16]

ConnachtEdit

Aki signed for Connacht in April 2014 and moved to Ireland ahead of the 2014–15 season. This move made him the second Chiefs player in as many years to join Connacht, following the transfer of captain Craig Clarke the previous season.[16][17] On 25 October 2016, Aki signed a new contract to remain at Connacht until 2020 and became eligible to play for Ireland after completing three years of residence in the country in October 2017.[18]

InternationalEdit

On 26 October 2017, Aki was named in the extended Ireland squad for the Autumn internationals.[19] With his inclusion came some criticism regarding his country of birth.[20] Aki made his debut for Ireland in the 38-3 win against South Africa at the Aviva Stadium on 11 November 2017.[21] He scored his first try for Ireland against Italy on the 10 February 2018.

HonoursEdit

Chiefs RugbyEdit

Connacht RugbyEdit

IrelandEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Bundee Aki Reveals His Real Name & Why Everyone Calls Him Bundee". RugbyLAD.com. Retrieved 23 September 2017. When my mum was giving birth to me, the doctor was called Bundellu, and asked if he could name me after him. My mum being a nice person, said yes. So I was named after him! So everybody at primary school called me Bundaloo.
  2. ^ "Player Profiles: Bundee Aki". Counties Manukau Rugby Football Union. Archived from the original on 22 August 2016. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  3. ^ "'I get a call every Monday from the old man and mum, trying to tweak my game'". The42. 22 February 2018. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  4. ^ "Bundee Aki Reveals His Real Name & Why Everyone Calls Him Bundee". RugbyLAD. 22 September 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  5. ^ "Bundee Aki prepared for his biggest challenge yet". Irish Times. 22 February 2018. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  6. ^ "Rugby: Bundee looks to fit the bill". The New Zealand Herald. 20 January 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Player statistics - club stats: Bundee Aki". Itsrugby. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  8. ^ "Counties-Manukau win promotion to premiership". Radio New Zealand. 26 October 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  9. ^ "Wellington 41 - 10 Counties Manukau". The New Zealand Herald. 18 October 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  10. ^ "Counties Manukau 20 – 40 Tasman". Ultimate Rugby. 30 August 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  11. ^ "Counties Manukau 41 - 18 Auckland". The New Zealand Herald. 8 October 2014. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  12. ^ "Super Rugby champions the Chiefs sign Counties Manukau centre Bundee Aki". Sky Sports Rugby. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  13. ^ "MATCH BREAKDOWN: Chiefs vs Crusaders". SA Rugby. 27 July 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  14. ^ "MATCH BREAKDOWN: Chiefs vs Brumbies". SA Rugby. 3 August 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  15. ^ "BRUMBIES END CHIEFS' TITLE RUN". SANZAR. 19 July 2014. Retrieved 23 August 2016.
  16. ^ a b "Connacht announce signing of Super XV winner Bundee Aki". Irish Independent. 12 April 2014. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  17. ^ "Connacht sign centre Bundee Aki" (Press release). Connacht Rugby. 12 April 2014. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  18. ^ "Confirmed: Bundee Aki agrees bumper long-term deal with Connacht while Ultan Dillane signs new two year contract". Irish Independent. 26 October 2016. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  19. ^ "Schmidt's statement, Bundee's inclusion and more Ireland squad talking points". The 42. 26 October 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  20. ^ https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/international-rugby/neil-francis-bundee-akis-selection-in-joe-schmidts-squad-reflects-integrity-deficit-in-international-game-36262971.html. 26 October 2017. Retrieved on 16 November 2017
  21. ^ "Ireland 38-3 South Africa". BBC Sport. 11 November 2017. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  22. ^ "All 30 of Ireland's Grand Slam contributors rated - but one man comes out on top". Irish Independent. 20 March 2018. Retrieved 22 March 2018.

External linksEdit