Connacht make 'massive statement' by securing services of their two biggest stars 3 years ago

Connacht make 'massive statement' by securing services of their two biggest stars

We told you Bundee Aki was a good bugger.

And we always suspected Ultan Dillane was one too.

New Zealand wrecking ball Aki was one of the most coveted players in Europe after his central role in driving Connacht to the PRO12 title last year.

Having let Kerry lock Dillane slip through their fingers, Munster were desperate to reclaim their native son - who has become an Ireland international since moving to Galway.

Well continent of Europe and Munster, you will just have to wait as Aki has dedicated himself to the province until 2020 at least after signing a new three-year contract extension. Dillance is hanging around until 2019 at the earliest after signing on for another two years.

We did see at least half of that coming.

There is still no word on whether or not last season's PRO12 player of the year Aki will join Dillane in the green of Ireland - he will be eligible under the three-year residency rule in November of next year.

The powerful centre would be a huge boon for Joe Schmidt, who himself signed on with the national team for another three years on Monday.

Speaking on Tuesday Pat Lam spoke of the massive statement made by Connacht in securing both players.

Two talented rugby players, naturally their performances have attracted a lot of attention and there is no doubt that they had options in terms of where they could play. But I believe it is a massive statement about what we are doing here as a team and an organisation that they were both so determined to continue to play their part.”

Aki, who has clearly felt an affinity for Galway and his team-mates, spoke of Galway as his home.

“The last two years with Connacht Rugby have been incredible. I moved over here not really knowing what to expect but this place has become home to me and my family now. I am proud to be part of this Connacht team and I’m excited to see what we can achieve together.”

Unsurprisingly Dillane paid tribute to the team that gave him his first shot in professional rugby.

“Connacht Rugby has given me so many opportunities since I started in the Academy and I’m delighted to have signed on again. I am enjoying my rugby so much here and am excited about the future of this team and the province.”

After a wobbly start to their season, the future is looking very bright in Galway.

Colm Parkinson chats to Kerry GAA legend, and author, Kieran Donaghy in a special edition of The GAA Hour. Listen below or subscribe on iTunes