Aki explains why he loves playing for Ireland

Aki explains why he loves playing for Ireland

Ireland and Connacht centre Bundee Aki has admitted that he loves Ireland and the Irish people in an emotional excerpt with ITV.

Aki is one of the best players in the Ireland team and has become a mainstay in Ireland's midfield since making his debut in 2017. Since making his debut, the New Zealand-born centre has won 2× Six Nations Championships: 2018, 2023, 2× Grand Slam: 2018, 2023, and 3× Triple Crown: 2018, 2022, 2023.

The 33-year-old was also Ireland's best player at the Rugby World Cup in October and scored five tries in the tournament.The Irish centre was also one of four players nominated for Player of the Tournament following the completion of the tournament. In January, Aki was named the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Men’s Player of the Year.

Despite being born in the Auckland suburb of Ōtāhuhu and coming through the New Zealand rugby system, the Connacht star qualified for Ireland after completing his three-year residency period with Connacht. Aki has since become a fan favourite for fans of the Irish rugby team and will start against Wales in Dublin this weekend.

When asked the word that best sums up his relationship with Ireland, Aki said, “I would say 'love.'"

The Ireland player also claimed that he loves playing for Ireland and that the people are great too. He now wants to repay the "love" given to him, starting with the game against Wales this weekend.

“I love playing for Ireland. I love the people in Ireland.

“They’ve given nothing but love, and I could only show it back through the way I play and the way I represent the country. It means a lot. It means a lot.”

Saturday’s match against Wales is live on RTÉ2 and ITV. That game kicks off at 2:15 pm.

Ireland team to play Wales: 

Ciarán Frawley (Fullback)
Calvin Nash (Wing) James Lowe (Wing)
Robbie Henshaw (Centre) Bundee Aki (Centre)
Jack Crowley (Flyhalf) Jamison Gibson-Park (Scrumhalf)

Andrew Porter (Prop) Dan Sheehan (Hooker) Tadhg Furlong (Prop)
Joe McCarthy (Lock) Tadhg Beirne (Lock)
Peter O'Mahony (Captain, Flanker) Josh van der Flier (Flanker) Caelan Doris (Flanker)
Replacements: Rónan Kelleher (Hooker) Cian Healy (Prop), Oli Jager (Prop), James Ryan (Lock), Ryan Baird (Lock), and Jack Conan (Back Row), Conor Murray (Scrumhalf) and Stuart McCloskey (Utility back)