Connacht Rugby have moved early to strengthen their squad ahead of the 2014/15 season by signing a deal to bring New Zealand born centre Bundee Aki to the Sportsground.
Aki, 24, a member of the Waikato based Chiefs Super Rugby winning team, has signed a three year deal with Connacht Rugby and the IRFU.
Appearing in every national provincial premiership game for the Counties Manukau Steelers last year when they won the Ranfurly Shield and made the semi-finals of the ITM Cup Premiership, Aki also started 12 games in midfield scoring six tries in his debut season for the Chiefs on their way to winning the title.
"I'm delighted to be able to confirm my move to Connacht Rugby. This is a huge opportunity for me and my family and I'm really excited by the new challenge," Aki said.
"I spoke with (Connacht head coach) Pat (Lam) and was very impressed with the aspirations he and the team have for the club and its future. It's definitely something I want to be a part of.
"Right now, I'm excited about getting back to playing with the Chiefs, where I've thoroughly enjoyed my time. There is a lot of rugby to be played before I start the next chapter with Connacht."
Lam hailed the announcement and said: "This is a fantastic coup for Connacht. It's great to be able to replace the loss of Eoin Griffin and Kyle Tonetti with the calibre of a player like Bundee.
"He is only 24-years-old and has already shown with the Chiefs and Counties Manukau what a thrilling prospect he is for the game. It's very exciting to be adding him to our young Irish qualified back line here at Connacht and he will bring a real attacking edge in midfield."
"He is a hard-working and talented individual and I believe that he will greatly contribute to the Connacht culture we've been developing and the vision we have laid out for the team. We're very much looking forward to welcoming him to the club."