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21st Aug 2017

Irish rugby supporters will be buzzing with the two new faces at training camp

First time in green but they're looking good

Niall McIntyre

Positive signs.

The Ireland rugby team were training in their Carton House training base on Monday, and those present to watch the session were delighted to see two new faces in the Ireland training gear.

The players were trotting out for their session in the Kildare grounds, where they are based for this week, when the New Zealand born Tyler Bleyendaal and Bundee Aki emerged.

Under World Rugby’s three-year residency rule, Aki is eligible to play for Ireland as soon as next month, which means he will be available for Ireland’s November international series of games, during which they will take on South Africa, Fiji and Argentina.

Joe Schmidt is expected to name his squad for the November internationals in the next few weeks, and this is surely a positive sign regarding Aki’s involvement.

There has been lots of speculation and uncertainty surrounding Aki’s international over the last few years, as he never gave much away in any interviews regarding his decision.

Less than four months ago in an interview with Sinead Kissane on TV3, he bet around that bush in phenomenal fashion.

“If Joe Schmidt calls you up though, will you say yes?”

“Any other professional footballer wants to play international but I’m just here to play for Connacht at the moment and like I said, my first jobs first is to play for Connacht.”

“Do you want to play international rugby for Ireland?”

“I want to play international rugby, that’s what my main goal is, every kids’ dream is to play international rugby…”

“Is that with Ireland?”

“I just need to focus on this week, that’s all I can say really. I can’t really say much about it because it’s not really time to think about that.”

Munster fly-half Bleyendaal isn’t eligible until January 2018, which is crucially, a month before the 2018 Six Nations takes place in February.

So hopefully both of the lads will both be lining out in green when Ireland look to win their first Six Nations title since 2015.

He looks great in green.

As does Bleyendaal.

Exciting times to be an Ireland rugby supporter.

Thanks to Angela Nolan for sending these photographs our way, and sending Irish rugby supporters into crazed anticipation.

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