Bundee Aki will be far happier doing his talking on the pitch than up in the stands in the final Test against South Africa.
The Ireland centre could be heard all around the Cape Town Stadium in the second Test, offering support to team-mates and occasionally questioning some refereeing calls – which wasn’t always appreciated by some of the sparse number of people allowed into the ground.
“I think I got told to shut up once, which is fair,” he said.
“When you’re supporting, you’re supporting your team-mate and the other team is supporting their team as well. It’s nothing bad about it, but when you’re not playing you try to support your team-mates as much as you can.
“Some players don’t do it the same way I do but I am vocal on the field and I’m the same off the field. You want to see your team doing well.”
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It’s that team bond which Aki has clearly bought into.
Hearing him speak, this is clearly the highlight of his career. The way the squad has come together is something which the Connacht man seems to truly cherish.
“Jeez, to be fair, the time I’ve had here has honestly been unbelievable,” he said.
“I’ve actually had the best time of my life being part of this group, this group is special.
“You’ll only know how well we get along as a group, and as a team, when you’re actually around us. Honestly, didn’t know each other, and how we played against each other, to what we are now together as a group, has been unbelievable. I honestly have thoroughly enjoyed my time being here.”
Aki has also admitted learning a lot from a man who had been tipped to wear his No. 12 jersey this weekend, Owen Farrell.
Despite admitting he didn’t think he’d get along with him so well prior to the tour starting, Aki has loved spending time with the England and Saracens star.
“I think a lot of my videos on Instagram are me beating him at FIFA and he doesn’t like it,” said the 31-year-old.
“But honestly I’ve learnt so much off that guy.
“I didn’t think I’d get along with him so well. Obviously you only know him from across the pitch, you only know him when you’re playing against him.
“But the standards he’s been doing when I’m not selected, and the way he’s been approaching me as a person and as a player, he’s literally hanging around with us every single day.
“Which is cool, because you don’t see that side of him. He’s a great bloke to have around, I’ve learnt so much off him. Like I said, I have enjoyed my time being here.”
Warren Gatland has named the centre, who missed out on selection for the first two Tests, in his midfield for the tour decider on Saturday, August 7.
Aki describes it as “a huge honour to be able to represent this prestigious team”, having had to make noise from the stands for the first two Tests.
Admitting there is no choice but to be a “good bugger” and “just get on with it” when you don’t get the nod, he’s now looking forward to winning that first Lions Test cap in the biggest of matches.
“A lot of people pray to try and get to where we are and I’m blessed to be where I am at the moment,” he said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity I’m getting this week.
“Not many people can say they’ve got a Test cap, so I’m honestly not taking this lightly at all.
“I’m going to relish the time I have on the pitch and try and take it with both hands.”