Monday 16 September 2019

Tough boy Bundee Aki willing to put his body on the line for Connacht

Bundee Aki of Connacht is out until mid-February
Bundee Aki of Connacht is out until mid-February
Aki: Sideline due to ankle surgery. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

John Fallon

Connacht coach Pat Lam said it took some amount of persuasion last week before Bundee Aki agreed to undergo surgery on a troublesome ankle injury.

Lam confirmed that Aki has a particularly high pain threshold and was keen to play on, but he finally relented when they presented him with the full facts.

"He would go out there on one leg," said Lam about the Pro12 player of the season who will now be out of action until mid-February.

"It was once the feedback came back from the surgeons. They got the second opinion. But it's been ongoing for Bundee. He just gets on with it. He could press on but as soon as it came back that we run the risk of further damage, we all made the decision (to) get in there and get it done now."

But Lam said that even then Aki was determined to delay surgery and play on.

"We sat down and went through all the facts with him and explained it.

"He felt he didn't want to let the team down. But we said 'mate you need to get it sorted, get in there and get it done'.

"He has an extremely high pain threshold. He would be right up there. He is tough.

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"But he realised straight away. At the end of the day it was his call. We had to put all the information down, we put it out there, and then he made the final call," added Lam.

Aki, who had played in all bar one of Connacht's games this season before going for surgery, will now miss the Pro12 games against Munster and Ospreys and also the Champions Cup encounters against Zebre and Toulouse when Connacht will be bidding to reach the quarter-finals for the first time.

Lam has an injury crisis on his hands with more than 20 players on the casualty list at the moment - and the champions can't afford to lose any more ground in the Pro12, sitting well outside the play-off and Champions Cup spots in eighth in the table.

Aki, who signed a three-year contract extension before Lam announced his departure for Bristol next summer, will become Irish-qualified later in 2017.

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