Bundee Aki, born Fua Leiofi Bundellu Aki on April 7, 1990, is a professional rugby union player who hails from New Zealand and represents Ireland at the international level. He plays as a centre for the United Rugby Championship club, Connacht.
Aki was born in Otahuhu, a suburb of Auckland, New Zealand, to parents Hercules and Sautia Aki. He was given the name Fua Leiofi but acquired the nickname "Bundee" from a rugby coach during his time playing at the underage level. Aki grew up in Manurewa, another suburb in South Auckland, and attended Manurewa High School, where he showcased his rugby skills as a member of the school's First XV rugby team. In 2011, he took a break from pursuing a professional rugby career and worked as a bank teller.
Aki's club career began with the Borneo Eagles, a team based in Sabah, East Malaysia. He then joined Counties Manukau, a provincial team in New Zealand, in 2011. During his time with Counties Manukau, Aki made a significant impact, scoring tries and helping the team achieve promotion to the Premiership Division of the ITM Cup. In 2014, he concluded his tenure with Counties Manukau, having started all ten games in the season.
Aki also had the opportunity to play in Super Rugby, joining the Chiefs in 2013. He played a vital role in the Chiefs' success, helping them secure back-to-back Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013. Aki appeared in numerous matches for the Chiefs, making notable contributions with his try-scoring ability.
In April 2014, Aki made a move to Irish side Connacht, becoming the second Chiefs player in consecutive years to join the club. He quickly established himself as a key player for Connacht and played an instrumental role in their success. In the 2015-2016 season, Aki's outstanding performances contributed to Connacht winning their first-ever PRO12 title.
After completing a three-year residency period in Ireland, Aki became eligible to represent the country at the international level. He was selected for the Irish national team and made his debut on November 11, 2017, in a match against South Africa. Aki's physical presence and defensive prowess earned him praise, and he continued to be a regular starter for Ireland in subsequent matches.
He was part of Ireland's Grand Slam-winning campaign in the 2018 Six Nations and played a significant role in their historic victory over the New Zealand All Blacks later that year. Aki also represented Ireland in the 2019 Rugby World Cup but received a red card in the pool stage, leading to a three-game suspension and ruling him out for the rest of the tournament.
Aki's contributions to Irish rugby led to his contract extension with Connacht and the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) in 2019. He has been a consistent performer for Ireland, earning numerous caps and scoring tries during his international career.
British & Irish Lions:
In May 2021, Aki's impressive form earned him a place in the British & Irish Lions squad for the tour of South Africa. He made his test debut in the final match of the series, representing the Lions against South Africa.
Throughout his career, Bundee Aki has showcased his physicality, skill, and versatility on the rugby field. He continues to be a vital player for Connacht and an asset to the Irish national team, contributing to their success in domestic and international competitions.
Ahead of the Rugby World Cup 2023, Bundee Aki has been named in the squad for Ireland.
|2014 - present|
|2017 - present|
|British & Irish Lions
|2021 - present|
|2013 - 2014|