Connacht and Ireland centre Bundee Aki will captain the Barbarians in their Quilter Cup showdown against England at Twickenham on May 27.
Head coach Pat Lam has handed the captaincy to the Connacht centre who “epitomises what we need to do” as the famous invitation side prepares to face Eddie Jones’ team next Sunday.
Aki is a Grand Slam winner with Ireland with seven victories from seven starts since making his debut against South Africa last November.
“I’d like to thank Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt for making Bundee Aki available to us as he’ll be a big asset for the Barbarians,” said Bristol head coach Lam, who signed Aki for Connacht from the Chiefs in 2014.
“The big thing about Bundee is that he’s an unbelievable competitor. A lot of the Pacific Island boys have that X-factor but he loves putting his head in the dark places and thriving in turnover and contact work.
“He’s a huge leader on the field and he has a great understanding and passion for the way I like the team to play.
“England is a game we’re going to have to work hard in and he epitomises what we need to do. We need the courage to play and move the ball and also to know when we have to tighten things up, and he’ll be at the centre of that.”
Lam already recruited superstar full back Charles Piutau and former Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw and more players will be added to the squad shortly.
The Barbarians have faced England 16 times and are searching for a first win since the 39-29 victory in 2014.
Last year’s contest saw England finish 28-14 winners with tries from Danny Care, Nick Isiekwe and Nathan Earle with Adam Ashley-Cooper and Joe Tekori replying.
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