Bundee Aki to lead Baabaas against England

New Zealand born Irish centre Bundee Aki will lead a Barbarians side against England later this month.

Ireland‘s Bundee Aki celebrates with try scorer Rob Herring. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Aki, a grand slam winner who has won on all seven of his starts for Joe Schmidt‘s men, is joined by Wales openside Justin Tipuric and Scotland halfback Greig Laidlaw among the 17 players confirmed so far for the May 27 fixture at Twickenham.

Also included are Ireland-capped lock Ultan Dillane and scrum-half Rhodri Williams, who has represented Wales.

“The big thing about Bundee is that he‘s an unbelievable competitor,” said Barbarians and Bristol head coach Pat Lam, who signed Aki for Connacht from Super Rugby‘s Chiefs in 2014.

“A lot of the Pacific Island boys have that X-factor but he loves putting his head in the dark places and thriving in turnover and work.

“England is a game we‘re going to have to work hard in and he epitomises what we need to do. We need the courage to play and move the ball and also to know when we have to tighten things up, and he‘ll be at the centre of that.”

Former New Zealand fullback Charles Piutau is among the 17, as are his fellow All Blacks Victor Vito, John Afoa and Luke McAlister.

The Barbarians have faced England 16 times and are seeking a first win since their 39-29 victory in 2014.

England tour South Africa next month.

BARBARIANS:

Backs: Niyi Adeolokun (Connacht and Ireland), Bundee Aki (Connacht and Ireland), Greig Laidlaw (Clermont and Scotland), Luke McAlister (Toulon and New Zealand), AJ McGinty (Sale Sharks and USA), Chales Piutau (Ulster and New Zealand), Rhodri Williams (Dragons and Wales).. Forwards: John Afoa (Gloucester and New Zealand), Ultan Dillane (Connacht and Ireland), Ramiro Herrera (Stade Francais and Argentina), Benjamin Kayser (Clermont and France), Tatafu Polota-Nau (Leicester and Australia), Sitaleki Timani (Clermont and Australia), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys and Wales), Loni Uhila (Clermont), Flip van der Merwe (Clermont and South Africa), Victor Vito (La Rochelle and New Zealand)

-AAP