Ireland skills & kicking coach Richie Murphy and young second row James Ryan spoke to the media today in the build-up to Saturday’s final Pool A game against Samoa.
Both spoke about Ireland’s increasingly-influential centre Bundee Aki who has Samoan parents, with Ryan saying: “Bundee leads with his actions when he plays – he puts in big hits, he makes big carries. He’s a very easy person to follow in that regard. He really leads in the way he plays.
“Ever since he came in, he has added real value. He’s really looking forward to this week (playing against Samoa). He met a couple of the Samoan boys yesterday for a bit of grub.
“On the pitch, he brings a real physical edge and he’s so combative. Off it, he’s great craic, he’s well able to have a laugh and everything else. He’s been super since he’s come in.”
Murphy added: “From a coach’s point of view, it is Bundee’s resilience and ability to be able to play every week. We’ve had a situation where himself, Robbie Henshaw, Garry Ringrose and Chris Farrell have been fighting it out for those positions, but Bundee is the one guy who has probably been available most of the time.
“It’s been fantastic to have him, he’s come into the group and fitted in really well. He loves living down in Galway, he’s a big part of the community down there, but within the group he’s taken a big stride on this year and is getting into leadership roles. He drives the team both on and off the pitch.”