Ireland weighing up appealing Aki's ban
DISCIPLINARY REACTION: Ireland will decide whether to appeal centre Bundee Aki’s three-match ban once the written report is received.
The Kiwi-born centre Aki received a three-match ban for a high tackle during Ireland’s 47-5 win over Samoa.
A judicial panel rejected his attempt to overturn the red card he was shown after his shoulder crashed into the head of Samoa flyhalf Ulupano Seuteni during the last Pool match.
The Irish Rugby Football Union voiced disappointment with that outcome and has revealed that they will decide whether to use their 48-hour window to review after they receive the committee’s written report.
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Asked whether that meant the Irish side preparing for New Zealand without Aki, assistant coach Simon Easterby said: “I guess at the moment we have to, partly to do with the time it could take [to appeal].
“We like to have as much clarity early in the week as possible and we’re now Tuesday… so we’re a little bit limited with time on the pitch in terms of training.
“We’re taking the course of action that Bundee potentially won’t be available for us this weekend.”
Aki, who has Samoan roots, had even received support from the Samoa team which urged the judicial panel to “see some sense” and spare him a ban.
And Easterby stressed that the centre was “nowhere near a dirty player.”
Ireland already lost him for “a large chunk of the game,” noted the assistant coach, who said that Aki was “pretty upset about the decision and rightfully so.”
Aki was a Super Rugby winner with the Chiefs in 2013 who signed for Irish province Connacht in April the following year and qualified for Joe Schmidt’s side after three years of residency in Ireland.
“There’s no better man for knowing how the Kiwis work and how they might be approaching this,” acknowledged Easterby.
Nevertheless, Easterby said Ireland would cope with the loss of Aki, notably with the welcome return of Robbie Henshaw after he missed the opening couple of pool matches but played a full 80 minutes against Samoa.
“Robbie coming back to fitness is great timing,” he said.
Neither Garry Ringrose nor Chris Farrell played against the Pacific islanders “so they’re fresh.”
Ireland have a good recent record against the All Blacks, winning two of the last three matches.
But Easterby warned that Ireland would have to be “on their game” in Tokyo.
“They have the ability across the board to hurt you,” he said. “If you give them a sniff, they take those opportunities.”