Rugby-Aki says Lions are having the time of their lives

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By Mark Gleeson 

  CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Ireland international Bundee Aki said he was having the time of his life on the British & Irish Lions tour and that the players had formed a strong bond as they head into their decisive test against South Africa on Saturday. 

  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. 

  “The time I’ve had here has been honestly unbelievable,” he 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.” 

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  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 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. 

  (Editing by Toby Davis) 

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