Connacht coach Andy Friend has sounded a highly encouraging note on Bundee Aki’s contract situation.
The Ireland international’s current deal runs out next summer but negotiations have been ongoing between the player and the IRFU in the hope of retaining his services for the western province and the national team beyond that point.
“I believe that every day it is getting closer,” said Friend. “There is certainly a lot of positivity coming out of Bundee regarding his energy towards Connacht and our energy towards him. So, listen, he has been fantastic in his time here.
“But I continue to see the man growing every day. He has got great energy around the group. He is very passionate towards Connacht and what we are doing there. He is a big part of the bus moving forward and every day we get closer. Fingers crossed the decision is made in the right way.”
Meanwhile, Ulster will be without Will Addison for the Heineken Champions Cup games with Harlequins after the full-back was suspended for four weeks following a tackle on Paul Jedrasiak during last Friday’s match with Clermont.
Addison was cited — despite being cleared by referee JP Doyle after consulting the TMO at the time — and learned his fate at a disciplinary hearing in London.
Addison will also miss Ulster’s PRO14 derby with Leinster and this Friday’s visit of the Scarlets.
A statement from tournament organisers EPCR read: “The committee upheld the citing complaint, finding that Addison had made reckless contact with Jedrasiak’s head in attempting the tackle.”
Dangerous tackles of this nature carry a mid-range sanction of six weeks, according to World Rugby regulations, but that was reduced to four weeks due to
Addison’s clear disciplinary record.