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Connacht are close to securing the long-term future of Bundee Aki with the province according to head-coach Andy Friend.

Speculation had been rife that Aki had attracted significant interest from abroad in the wake of Ireland's Rugby World Cup disappointment in Japan, particularly with his existing deal expiring at the end of the season.

Judging by Friend's comments, it sounds like the centre's head has not been turned and he will sign a central contract.

"I believe that with every day it is getting closer," said Friend at yesterday’s Guinness Pro14 media day at Cardiff City Stadium.

"There's certainly a lot of positive energy coming out of Bundee around his energy towards Connacht and our energy towards him."

Energy

Friend added that Aki was still improving at Connacht: "He's been fantastic in his time here and we continue to see the man growing every day.

"Bundee's got a great energy around the group, he's very passionate towards Connacht and everything we're doing.

"He's a big part of us moving forward, so with every day we get closer and fingers crossed the decision is made the right way.

Assuming the talks conclude successfully, Bundee Aki will become the first Connacht player with a central contract on the province's rota. This will free up budget for potentially other signings at the Sportsground.

The positive Aki contract update follows the recent news of Kieren Marmion penning a deal keeping him in the west until 2023.

There will be plenty of benefits for Friend as Connacht coach when looking to sign more players with two of his internatioanl stars secured on long-term deals.

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Bundee Aki Central Contract Connacht IRFU Rugby

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