Thursday 24 May 2018

Joe Schmidt hails 'super' Bundee Aki debut

Bundee Aki, right, and Rhys Ruddock of Ireland after the Guinness Series International match between Ireland and South Africa at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. (Photo By Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
Bundee Aki, right, and Rhys Ruddock of Ireland after the Guinness Series International match between Ireland and South Africa at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. (Photo By Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Joe Schmidt hailed the impact of Bundee Aki after the Connacht centre put in an impressive shift on his Ireland debut.

Aki was hugely aggressive in defence and set the tone with an early shuddering hit on Coenie Oosthuizen that ultimately ended the South African prop's game.

Playing alongside his former team-mate Robbie Henshaw, the pair picked up where they left before the Athlone native left for Leinster, and Schmidt was suitably impressed with their contribution.

Ireland's line speed was phenomenal as the Springboks struggled to live with their intensity and Aki was central to that as he slotted in seamlessly to Andy Farrell's system.

Aki topped the tackle count with (17) and while he didn't quite get the chance to sparkle in attack, there is plenty more to come from him in an Ireland jersey.

“I don't think anyone was surprised that the synergy was pretty good there,” a delighted Schmidt said.

“I think Bundee got in some smashing tackles. One where we got the turnover where CJ got onto the ball.

“He is a very calm character and in training during the week, quiet words. He brings a fair bit of experience even though that was his debut today.

“He and Robbie have a real understanding. I think that was part of what it made it a little bit more comfortable for us in putting that combination together. I thought Bundee was super.”

Despite being impressed with Ireland's overall performance that saw them inflict a record defeat on Springboks, the Kiwi wasn't getting carried away.

“No, not at all, I didn't see it coming,” he said.

“The margins tend to be exaggerated some time. Three games ago they got beaten by 57 points, then the next time the All Blacks were lucky to beat them – it was a one point loss, when they could so easily have won that.

“We'd be naive to think the next time we play there'd be a 35 point gap.

“In the last four Test matches against South Africa it's mostly been one or two score matches.

“The score flattered us a little bit and we scored the bulk in the last nine to ten minutes.

“Before then the game was in the balance, we were flat in the third quarter, and I was disappointed with that. But at the same time they had to put themselves back in the game.

“It was 14-0, then 17-3 for quite a while so when we look back, we'll have things to work for the next couple of weeks.

“I don't think there's too much chance of us getting carried away. We stay very realistic about the process.

"If you manage to get a scoreboard differential, there's always a chance the opposition try things they're not comfortable with and they offer you opportunities.”

Schmidt confirmed that Peter O'Mahony had suffered a cut to his ear and was the only casualty as attentions begin to turn to Fiji next weekend.

The injury is not thought to be serious and the Munster captain was replaced early as a mere precaution.

Schmidt also doesn't expect to call up a replacement for the injured Keith Earls, instead looking to give more game time to the younger wingers that he already has in the squad.

Online Editors

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