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Highlights on Off The Ball


Bundee Aki can't afford anymore discipline incidents

Bundee Aki's discipline is a major concern for both Ireland and Connacht now.

Ruaidhri O'Connor joined Monday Night Rugby to discuss Bundee Aki and his discipline.

Bundee Aki saw red again this weekend.

The referee sent him off during Connacht's game with the Stormers.

The Ireland international and Connacht center didn't immediately leave the field. He argued his dismissal with the referee and even continued to argue after his captain told him to leave the field. Aki reiterated an issue he has previously had.

Ruaidhri O'Connor is very concerned by Aki's incident against the Stormers.

"Having two red cards on the international scene is not good," O'Connor said.

"So that's one mitigation that's out the window. He's got prior and he hasn't adjusted his technique. Both of those red cards were for high tackles. Then he remonstrates quite strongly with the referee, he puts his hand on the ref a little bit.

"He's quite aggressive, quite confrontational and he continues with the touch judge on the sideline."

He likely won't be available for the November Internationals, so Andy Farrell won't have to weigh up his selection. But Farrell will have to consider if Aki is worth the risk in the future.

"South Africa is six weeks away. The first test of the November internationals and Andy Farrell is looking at that. He's already missed a World Cup quarterfinal because of his discipline, because of this issue. Whether he's going to be suspended for November or not, it will definitely come into his selection.

"It's a really damaging moment.

"And also he's Connacht's most important player and now he's gone for their most critical part of the season...It's a really poor moment for him. He's let himself down, his coaches and his teammates down."

Gary Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw are Ireland's starting centers. With Chris Farrell away from rugby for the foreseeable future and Aki suspended, James Hume will have more chances. Hume must beat out teammate Stuart McCloskey for that third center spot.

The question then becomes where does Aki re-enter the depth chart. Is he automatically the third option again? Is he better than Hume and McCloskey so it's a simple choice? Or is this the beginning of his phasing out period.

Aki is 32. Hume is just 24 years of age. The Ulster center should be moving into the prime of his career now. Whereas Aki is entering his physical twilight years.

Either way, Aki can't afford any more incident such as this one. Neither for club nor country.

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Bundee Aki Connacht Rugby Ireland Rugby James Hume