Ireland star Aki extends contract after World Cup disappointment

Dublin (AFP) –


Bundee Aki has put a disappointing Rugby World Cup behind him by signing a three-year extension to his present contract with the Irish Rugby Football Union and his province Connacht.

The 29-year-old New Zealand-born centre's extension sees him tied to Connacht until the end of the 2022/2023 season.

Aki -- a pivotal figure in Ireland's 2018 Six Nations Grand Slam side -- suffered an unhappy World Cup that reflected his country's luckless stay in Japan.

Aki, scorer of four tries in his 23 Tests since making his debut in November 2017, was sent off for a high tackle in Ireland's final pool match against Samoa and received a three match suspension which meant he missed their quarter-final thrashing by New Zealand.

"I am grateful for the opportunity I have been given to represent both Connacht and Ireland and am delighted to extend my IRFU contract," said Aki in an IRFU statement.

"I want to play my part in helping Connacht achieve their ambitious plans in the years to come."

David Nucifora, the IRFU performance director, said Aki had been a prime asset for both province -- he played a leading role in their securing the Pro 12 title in 2016 -- and country.

"Bundee has added significant value to both the Ireland and Connacht environments," said Nucifora

"He has performed at a consistently high level, is a leader and has a positive impact on younger players around him with his insight and the professionalism and diligence of his preparation."