Bundee Aki is hoping to return for Connacht’s clash against Dragons on Saturday week to try to steady their faltering Pro12 campaign.
The return of the Pro12 player of the season will be a huge boost, as Connacht try to secure a Champions Cup spot.
Aki had ankle surgery in December and missed out on Connacht’s key Champions Cup games and their Pro12 outings with Munster and Ospreys, but he will be back to boost the league champions’ drive to reach the play-offs.
Aki, who recently signed a three-year contract extension with Connacht, will sit out Sunday’s clash away to Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park, but according to coach Pat Lam, he is on track with his recovery.
“Yeah, he’s trucking nicely. He’s on track,” said Lam. “He should be back some time this month, so he’s not far off... With all of the guys, that’s where the medics have been great. We don’t want to rush guys. We want to make sure if they have an injury when they come back they are fully over it.”
Former Springbok out-half Marnitz Boshoff, who has made only two appearances since joining this season, remains on track to return next month.
Connacht, currently eighth in the Pro12, received a boost yesterday with the announcement that hooker Dave Heffernan and ex-Wasps lock James Cannon have both signed two-year contract extensions. They head to Cardiff on Sunday hoping to see the province climb the table, a bid that could be boosted with back rower Eoghan Masterson making his first appearance in green for nearly a year after a horror knee injury. The Portlaoise native has already played a couple of games for Galwegians and another for the Connacht Eagles, but Lam is keen not to rush him.
“Eoghan has been out 11 months and he’s back. He’s had a couple of runs in club rugby and had a hit-out with the Eagles. It takes a lot of commitment and dedication to come back from an injury like that.”
Meanwhile, Lam said he remains “100% certain” that Connacht will attract the right man to replace him at the end of the season, as the search continues for their new head coach. “All I’m really comfortable with [saying] is that the board are doing a great job. I trust the process that they are doing,” said Lam. “I am 100% confident they are going to get the right person. I think the best part about it is that they have absolute clarity in what they are looking for. It’s trucking nicely.”
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