Joe Schmidt Fires Back At NZ Comments Regarding Bundee Aki & Selection Policy

Born ready.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has jumped to the defence of New Zealand-born, Ireland centre Bundee Aki ahead of this weekend’s clash with his native country.

New Zealand journalist Gregor Paul took aim at Ireland’s recruitment policy earlier this week, focusing in on Aki in particular and his move to Ireland and his subsequent Test selection under Joe Schmidt.

“Last week it was former Hurricanes captain Brad Shields who guest-starred for the opposition and this week in Dublin, it will be former Chiefs midfielder Bundee Aki.” Paul wrote in the NZ Herald

“Aki makes for a particularly interesting case study as he owes his presence in Ireland’s midfield to a rather cold, calculating and ethically questionable recruitment policy by the Irish Rugby Football Union.” 

When asked about the rhetoric around Aki playing his against his home nation this week, and whether not he thinks Aki is “ready”, Schmidt praised the Connacht centre’s impact and work rate. He also highlighted the fact that the All Blacks are no strangers for picking players who weren’t born in New Zealand.

“Look I think Bundee has probably demonstrated through the last year, he made his debut against South Africa last year in this particular section of the year and I think he won Personality Of The Year,” Schmidt said.

“That’s the nature of Bundee and his popularity. Because everybody knows he’s going to give absolutely 100 per cent.

“It’s like asking was Jerome Kaino 100% ready to play for the All Blacks, because he was born in a foreign country or Chris Masoe or Joe Rokocoko or any of those guys.

“So having coached all those guys, they were very ready to play for the All Blacks. Bundee Aki is very ready to play for us in this weekend’s fixture.”