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Ireland international Bundee Aki has signed a contract extension with Connacht that will see him remain at the province until 2023.

Aki’s current deal runs out in the summer and there was speculation that the star centre was considering a move abroad with a number of French teams thought to be sniffing around.

However, the IRFU and Connacht have confirmed that the 29-year-old will remain in the west of Ireland having signed a new three-year deal.

Aki first joined the province in 2014 and has since made 92 appearances, scoring 18 tries during that period. He was a central figure in 2015 when Connacht were crowned PRO12 champions and picked up the Pro12 Player of the Season award that year.

Speaking to the Connacht Rugby website, Aki said he is eager to help Connacht achieve their “ambitious” plans.

“I am grateful for the opportunity I have been given to represent both Connacht and Ireland and am delighted to extend my IRFU contract.

“The whole of Connacht have been incredibly supportive of both me and my family and the Ireland supporters have been fantastic from the very first day I was selected for the national squad.

“Connacht has become home to me and my family and I want to play my part in helping Connacht achieve their ambitious plans in the years to come.”

Meanwhile, Connacht head coach Andy Friend stated that Aki has “driven standards” since his arrival at the province.

“Bundee has been an incredible player for Connacht since his arrival in the Sportsground. He has completely embraced every aspect of life in the West of Ireland and has driven standards among the playing group.

“He shares the ambition that we have for the seasons ahead and what he can achieve as a Connacht player. His commitment for a further three seasons is a sign of the energy and passion he has for the province”.

Aki will feature alongside Kyle Godwin in the centre when Connacht host Southern Kings at The Sportsground on Saturday. (KO 5.15pm).

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