Bundee Aki surprised by Irish squad call up
Former Chiefs midfielder Bundee Aki says his first taste of an Ireland training camp was ‘‘a big step up from pro rugby’’.
The 27-year-old - who qualifies in October to play for Ireland after three years with Pro 14 club Connacht - was called into a recent training camp by Ireland’s New Zealand-born coach Joe Schmidt.
‘‘I went to the camp recently and I was very excited,’’ Aki said in an interview with Britain’s Sky Sports channel. Very nervous at the same time; when I got there I was meeting different kinds of people. I was very excited too, just seeing how they do things. It was an eye-opener, a big step up from pro rugby. I enjoyed every moment of it and I enjoyed the challenge that was laid out.’’
The former Counties Manukau stalwart, who helped Connacht win the 2015-16 Pro 12 title, said there was a lot to take in - on and off the training field.
‘‘I was actually very lucky to be in that first camp. There was a few of us [Connacht players] there so it was good.’’
Aki said while he was pleased to be involved with Ireland: ‘‘[I’m] just taking it one step at a time, obviously I just need to play well here for us first and see how we go.’’
Bundee Aki when he used to play for Counties Manukau.