Pat Lam shocked at Connacht star being overlooked
Connacht boss Pat Lam is surprised his star centre Bundee Aki was not among the four players nominated for the IRUPA players' player of the year award.
The New Zealand-born Samoan has been outstanding in the western province's historic campaign, playing an influential role in taking the side to second spot in the Pro12, yet his fellow professionals have voted for a quartet of Ireland internationals ahead of him.
Ulster's Ireland skipper Rory Best, Aki's Connacht colleague Robbie Henshaw, Munster captain CJ Stander and Leinster prop Jack McGrath are all in the running at the awards ceremony in Dublin tonight.
"I was," Lam said when asked if he was surprised by the 26-year-old's omission.
"Consistently throughout the season, there's no doubt - I talk to all the other coaches and if you asked them if they could take one player from our team, who would it be, I've no doubt it'd be Bundee Aki, and if they recognise it, then...
"His performances have been world class."
Aki is back in the Connacht squad for Saturday's final regular season game at home to leaders Glasgow Warriors after recovering from a knee injury and Lam is also boosted by the return of Matt Healy and Finlay Bealham.
Craig Ronaldson is in a race to be fit for the game.
Already guaranteed a place in the top four, a win over the Pro12 champions would secure a home semi-final, while a bonus point victory would take top spot.