We Really Need To Talk About Bundee Aki’s Six Nations Campaign

Ireland’s rock in midfield.

With all the talk and praise surrounding the likes of Conor Murray, Tadhg Furlong, Johnny Sexton, Jacob Stockdale and Garry Ringrose, we seem to have completely overlooked Bundee Aki.

The Connacht centre was an absolute rock in Ireland’s midfield, and the only centre to play all five games. Despite being forced to play in three different centre partnerships, his performances were consistent throughout.

Robbie Henshaw, Chris Farrell and Garry Ringrose were all praised for their performances at this year’s Six Nations. But has anyone ever stopped for a second and realised what they all had in common? Bundee Aki at inside centre.

As good as those three thirteens were, they were made to look so much better with Aki inside them. We’ve been going on about having a playmaker at inside centre a long time now, ever sine Eddie Jones starting playing Owen Farrell there. But what about a hybrid inside centre?

Aki has all the attributes of a classic twelve, but he’s also got a playmaking side to him. He averaged over 11 carries a game at this year’s Six Nations, but also managed over 7 passes a game.

What’s makes him so good as a partner, is he constantly puts Ireland on the front-foot. If you’re inside or outside Aki, chances are you’re getting go-forward ball off him. 16 defenders beaten across the five games, an average of 3.2 per game, says an awful lot.

He also racked up an impressive 170 metres, and made three clean breaks. And to top it all off, bagged two tries and set-up two more. All this before we even get to one of his most important attributes as a 12. His defence.

40 tackles made, with a 90% tackle completion rate.

Say what you want about the likes of Robbie Henshaw, Chris Farrell and Garry Ringrose. Sure they were excellent. But the man inside them deserves just as much credit as they do.

And it’s them who will be competing against each other for a spot in Ireland’s midfield, because Bundee Aki is going nowhere. And that’s a fact.

Bundee Aki’s Six Nations

Games played: 5
Tries: 2
Try assists: 2
Passes: 36
Carries: 57
Metres made: 170
Defenders beaten: 16
Clean breaks: 3
Tackles made: 40
Tackle completion: 90%