Aviva Premiership big spenders, Bristol are said to have set their sights set on Connacht centre Bundee Aki.
Aki met with Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt back in June with several lucrative offers from French and English clubs potentially enticing the Pro12 player of the season away from Connacht, with the IRFU have seemingly hoping to secure Aki on a long-term national contract.
The 26-year-old centre’s current deal ends in July 2017. He qualifies to play for Ireland, via the three-year residency rule, in October 2017.
It now seems Premiership new boys Bristol are hot on the tails of his signature as they hope to make a marquee signing ahead of next season. The English outfit were recently linked with a record-breaking deal for Toulon’s Ma’a Nonu
David Nucifora, the IRFU performance director stated in June that the IRFU was aware of the foreign interest in Aki.
“Obviously, we’ll be trying to keep the guy here to play his rugby in Ireland,” said Nucifora.
“He’ll be that close to being eligible for Ireland, if that’s what his motivation is, if that’s what he’s driven by, then we’ll be working to help him achieve that.
“We are aware that other people are interested . . . If he is going to stay and his ambition is to play for Ireland, then I think the conversation that we have with him will be slightly easier than any other team might have with him.”
Aki recently stated his ambition is to play international test rugby, but refused to commit to Ireland.
Yeah, my ambition is still to play international rugby,” Aki said back in August.
When asked which country he would like to represent, Aki had this to say
“I actually do not know just yet,”
“I would love to tell you, but I don’t know just yet.”
Can Connacht retain the services of Bundee Aki? Only time will tell.