BUNDEE AKI SAYS that contract talks about him staying with Connacht have not yet taken place and he has not set a deadline on when he will decide on his future.
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The Pro12 player of the season has become one of the hottest properties in the northern hemisphere after his outstanding displays in leading Connacht to their historic success in May when they won their first trophy in 131 years.
Aki’s is now into his third and final year of his contract with Connacht and coach Pat Lam faces an almost impossible task to hold on to him with several French clubs keen to snap up with the 26-year old New Zealander.
“I haven’t spoken about anything, obviously it is my last year but I have not spoken about anything yet,” he says. “I just want to make sure I play well, do everything I can and if it all goes well then everything falls into place. But first things first.
“There is no deadline whatsoever. I just need to make sure I perform really well and continue on how I played last year and get better from there.”
He will become Irish-qualified this season and Connacht will be putting pressure on the IRFU to hold on to a special talent, but French clubs will not be daunted in shelling out and already a number of them have made enquiries.
Aki’s barn-storming performances were key to Connacht’s historic success last season and other than sitting out a trip to Treviso late in the campaign, he featured in each of the other 23 games on their march to Pro12 glory, scoring six tries in the process.
He was one of seven Connacht players selected in the Pro12 team of the season and then went on to collect the top individual award.
Aki was back in action on Thursday night when Connacht played their only preseason game, going down 21-19 to Montpellier at Saint-Affrique in France in a worthwhile run out against the European Challenge Cup champions.
Connacht’s glory campaign last season also started with a friendly in Saint-Affrique last August and Aki said it was great to be back in action.
“It was good to come back to where it started last season and to make a fresh start and see where we are. Obviously, we have started a bit late but I thought the boys played really well, a lot of new guys and a lot of young boys but we stuck to our system and it worked all right,” he added.
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