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Aki a crucial part of the plan for Joe

Bundee Aki. Photo: Sportsfile
Bundee Aki. Photo: Sportsfile

Bundee Aki only played twice for Ireland prior to the Six Nations, but now after big performances against France and Italy, the Connacht centre is the main man, writes Noel Mannion.

Robbie Henshaw's injury was a massive blow against Italy. He scored twice and it was a cruel way to go out, to suffer a shoulder knock like that. But now Bundee must take up the responsibility.

His relationship with Robbie was crucial to Ireland's hopes of winning the Six Nations this year. They had such a good partnership at Connacht and Joe Schmidt saw that as a huge asset to this Irish set-up, but now Bundee is the remaining link.

Now it's his relationship with Johnny Sexton that could prove crucial. They haven't played much together and I'm sure Warren Gatland will look to throw attackers down that channel.

But Bundee is known for being a great talker on the pitch. And with Connacht he has shown how aggressive and disciplined he can be in defence. Going forward he added a bit to Ireland's attack against Italy too, and he will be a focal point against Wales too. 

Wales used to be all about Warrenball but last year they hit Ireland in the outside channels too, and they are well capable of mixing things up.

They may not have scored against England but they opened Scotland up, the Irish defence must be on guard.

Irish Independent

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