Aviva is the proud sponsor of the home of Irish Rugby, Aviva Stadium – where fans can cheer on their heroes from the best seat in the house. Having previously visited Peter O’Mahony to see the best seat in his house, the second instalment in the series meant a trip to discover the favourite spot of another of the game’s biggest stars: Bundee Aki.
Born and raised in New Zealand, the affable centre didn’t take long in attaining iconic status after arriving on Irish shores a decade ago. Extraordinary performances in the green jersey last season saw him recently named as Guinness Rugby Writers Player of the Year not forgetting his nomination for World Rugby Men's 15s Player of the Year award. With another Guinness Six Nations campaign just around the corner, he’ll once again be a key part of Ireland’s quest for silverware as they look to repeat last year’s Grand Slam success.
Of course, it’s not just within Andy Farrell’s side that he’s cemented a place; he’s also well and truly become one of Galway’s most beloved adopted sons. Home for Bundee, along with his wife and children, is now a beautiful house just outside the city of the tribes in Oranmore – and he very kindly opened his doors to invite us for a look around!
There, Bundee discussed the challenge of balancing sport and family, the importance of building camaraderie on and off the field, as well as how his love of sparking up the barbecue stands up to the less-than-favourable Irish conditions. And, of course, gave us the lowdown on the best seat in his house…where downtime is all about playing a very different type of game!
Transcript for video Bundee Aki tell us about his very own best seat in his house
00:00:01 Video starts
00:00:05: Bundee Aki, Ireland and Connacht Rugby Player
The best seat in the house is the one I’m sitting on right now. It’s comfy. I normally come home from work, put the fee up and turn on the telly and relax.
One of the things I love to do when I’m sitting on this couch is, bring my controller and start playing games with a few of the lads. So, trying to find time to be able to play online, but then also trying to be a dad. Making sure that you’re doing what you need to do with the kids.
At the moment, I love playing Fortnite and Call of Duty. It does, in fairness now, it does get competitive. We’re all mic’d up, everyone’s all mic’d up. Everyone’s headphones are working and everyone’s just zoned in on the game and talking where the threat is and where we’re going.
I think it’ important to have these connections off the pitch because you’re not really talking about rugby and you’re not thinking about work whatsoever. It’s just you being yourself, you know, you’re playing a game with a friend, a teammate, and you just bond with each other a lot more, do you know what I mean? It’s just talking to them every day just lets you get to know them a lot better so you just have more jokes, have more laughter throughout the day, and you probably won’t see that at training because everyone’s sort of switched on and doing their work.
I have lived in this house for five years now. It’s been lovely. The kids have been enjoying the comfort of this house, the warmth of it, and then outside as well. So, they enjoy playing outside on their playground. It’s a nice humble home, I would say a humble home. A nice easy going home. It’s starting to get smaller now because we’ve got four kids. But it’s a nice cosy home.
I love doing barbecues. I have five of them outside so. So yeah, I do a little bit of cooking when the weather allows us to. I don’t like to keep too many trophies lying around, but my wife and my kids are the biggest supports for me. Like they try and remind me how, you know what I’ve achieved as a person and what we have achieved as a family, really. But one day when I finish rugby, I’ll have the chance and I’ll have the time to be able to sit back and just admire the work that we’ve put through.
When I look back I always thank my teammates, the credit goes back to them because when all the cogs are spinning well and you’re just doing what you’re doing and just enjoying life and enjoying rugby. Balancing your life with rugby is hugely important. I think the biggest thing I took away from one of the competitions that we just came off was they involved our family, they brough them to the games. You know, when you see your kids and your family, it’s like puts a smile on your face and these are the reasons why we’re taking these sacrifices to be able to play the game. So, I think balancing your life out with rugby and family and playing PlayStation, whatever it is, it’s hugely important.
Cheer on the Irish Rugby team in style with our rugby themed match-day platter recipe, perfect for a Six Nations party!