Bundee Aki to become latest Connacht Rugby centurion in Guinness PRO14 return against Ulster Rugby

Aug 21 • General News, Guinness Pro14 • 454 Views • No Comments on Bundee Aki to become latest Connacht Rugby centurion in Guinness PRO14 return against Ulster Rugby

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Irish International Bundee Aki will make his 100th appearance for Connacht on Sunday after he was named to start in the Guinness PRO14 clash with Ulster at the Aviva Stadium (k/o 4.30pm).

Aki joined Connacht in 2014 and has gone on to play a central role in the province’s fortunes since then. He was named Guinness PRO12 Player of the Season in 2015/16, the same year he helped the team to their first ever title.

His form was rewarded with a first call-up to the Ireland squad in the 2017 Autumn Internationals. He has been an ever-present member of the squad since then, making 26 appearances and starting every game in the Grand Slam victory of 2018.

Elsewhere at least two players will make their Connacht Rugby debuts on Sunday with Alex Wootton and Academy graduate Peter Sullivan both named on the wings. They form a back three with John Porch who slots in at full-back.

Tom Farrell will partner Aki in the centre with Irish international Kieran Marmion and Jack Carty forming a formidable half-back partnership.

In the forwards there’s a return to action for prop Finlay Bealham after sustaining a serious injury against Edinburgh in February, and he makes up an experienced front-row with Denis Buckley and hooker Dave Heffernan.

Ultan Dillane and Gavin Thornbury have been named in the second row, and the starting XV is completed by flankers Eoghan Masterson and captain Jarrad Butler, with Paul Boyle named at number 8.

Three more players could make their Connacht debuts off the bench, with props Jordan Duggan and Jack Aungier, and back row Conor Oliver all included.

The remainder of the replacements is made up of Jonny Murphy, Niall Murray, Stephen Kerins, Conor Dean and Tom Daly.

Connacht Rugby Head Coach Andy Friend says there’s huge excitement about returning to action:

“It has been almost 6 months since our last game and 2 months since we commenced pre-season training, so we are delighted our return has finally arrived. I have been delighted with how the squad have a group have reacted to the uncertainty of the last few months, so now we want to put into practice what we’ve been working on in that time.”

Commenting on his team selection, Friend added:

“From the outset we as a management group said we wanted to put our best foot forward in this fixture. We have selected a squad of 23 that reflects that, with a lot of quality and experience while also handing debuts to a number of our new arrivals. We’re going out there to get the win, while also working towards the new season in October.”

16:30, Sunday 23rd August @ Aviva Stadium

  1. John Porch
  2. Peter Sullivan
  3. Tom Farrell
  4. Bundee Aki
  5. Alex Wootton
  6. Jack Carty
  7. Kieran Marmion
  8. Denis Buckley
  9. Dave Heffernan
  10. Finlay Bealham
  11. Ultan Dillane
  12. Gavin Thornbury
  13. Eoghan Masterson
  14. Jarrad Butler (c)
  15. Paul Boyle
  16. Jonny Murphy
  17. Jordan Duggan
  18. Jack Aungier
  19. Niall Murray
  20. Conor Oliver
  21. Stephen Kerins
  22. Conor Dean
  23. Tom Daly

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