British and Irish Lions: Centre Bundee Aki having ‘time of his life’ in South Africa even before call-up for third Test

Warren Gatland has made six changes to his starting XV for the decisive third Test with South Africa on Saturday, including giving Adams, Aki and Jones their Lions Test debuts; watch the third Test on Saturday, live on Sky Sports from 4pm

Last Updated: 03/08/21 10:54pm

Bundee Aki has been called up to the British and Irish Lions side for their decisive third Test against South Africa

Bundee Aki says he was having the time of his life on the British & Irish Lions tour even before being called up for Saturday’s decisive third Test against South Africa.

The conclusion of the eight-match, six-week tour is a decider against the Springboks with Aki among six changes to the team named by coach Warren Gatland for the game at Cape Town Stadium.

It will be his first Test after being in the stands for the first two, but it has not stopped the New Zealand-born Ireland international from having an experience of a lifetime.

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“The time I’ve had here has been honestly unbelievable,” the Ireland centre told a news conference on Tuesday.

“I don’t say this lightly but I’ve honesty had the best time of my life being a part of this group. You will only know how well we all get along as a team if you were around us. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time being here.”

Players that are usually on opposite sides of the pitch in Six Nations tussles are now closer friends, like England captain Owen Farrell, previously an old adversary.

“I’ve learnt so much off that guy, I get along with him so well,” he said. “I only knew him from across the pitch, playing against him, but he’s a great bloke to have around. We’ve been hanging around every day.”

Aki says the Lions squad have been getting along very well on tour

Aki says the Lions squad have been getting along very well on tour

Aki comes into the Lions midfield alongside Robbie Henshaw, who he played with at Connacht and for Ireland.

“We’ve been close mates. I’m absolutely blessed to be a team-mate of Robbie and played so many games with him. We’ve just got to make sure we do what we do best as a partnership.”

The 31-year-old Aki is one of four changes in the backline after the Lions lost 27-9 in the second test last Saturday. He replaces the Scotland international Chris Harris.

“I’m delighted I’ve got the nod but we’ve got a job to do. I’m looking forward to it, trying to keep my feet on the ground and make sure I do the job I need to do,” he said.

“It’s a huge honour to play for this prestigious team. I’m grateful for the opportunity I’m getting this week, not many people get a test cap. I’m going to relish the time I have on the pitch,” he added.

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