Neil Francis Launches Attack On Bundee Aki, CJ Stander & Residency Rule

“Fundamentally wrong.”

Former Ireland international Neil Francis is not happy that Bundee Aki has been included in Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad for this month’s November international series.

The New Zealand-born centre has been included for the Test games against South Africa, Fiji and Argentina, after recently completing his three-year residency rule.

Aki is one of the last few players who will get through before the rule is changed to five years, and joins the likes of CJ Stander, Jared Payne and Richardt Strauss in declaring for Ireland.

Francis says Aki merely signed a contract for his ‘services’ with Connacht, and is now eligible thanks to what he thinks is a farcical rule.

“When you are picking a player to play for Ireland, whatever else about him being good enough, I think the prime ingredient is whether he is Irish or not,” he told Claire Byrne Live.
“I think at this stage World rugby have realised that the integrity of the game is at question. The cornerstone of the game is that we pick the best of us to play the best of whoever we are playing.”
“Bundee Aki was born in Auckland to Samoan parents. He wasn’t going to get to play for the All Blacks and he goes 18,000km to a place he has never heard of before in Galway.”
“He plays for Connacht for three years, a contract for services, and because of a residency rule, he’s allowed to play for Ireland.

Francis also took a cheap shot at South African-born Munster and Ireland back-row CJ Stander, who he reckons had someone like Cardiff offered him a better deal before he signed for Munster, he’d now be lining out for Wales.

“Say CJ Stander had been offered a better deal by Cardiff [before he signed for Munster], said, ‘here’s 50 grand more than Munster are offering’, suddenly he’s eligible to play for Wales.”

Aki last season stated that while his ambition is to play international rugby, it’s wrong for him to  “say I’m Irish.” Francis says this is fundamentally wrong.

“That is fundamentally wrong. That is ethically and morally wrong in terms of representing your country. Handing out jerseys to people who say that is fundamentally wrong.”

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