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Dublin: 14 °C Wednesday 21 August, 2019

'Bundee Aki was on crutches on Tuesday. He's a warrior'

Pat Lam revealed that his brilliant centre was injured in training this week.

MAN OF THE match Bundee Aki only proved his fitness to start Connacht’s superb Pro12 semi-final win over Glasgow in the western province’s warm-up before the game.

Speaking after the 16-11 win for his side in the Sportsground, Connacht head coach Pat Lam revealed that Aki was on crutches as recently as Tuesday after suffering a twisted knee in training.

Bundee Aki celebrates at the end of the match Aki was man of the match in Galway. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The outstanding centre recovered in time to take the field for Connacht in their semi-final and delivered the latest in a long, long line of superb performances.

“Bundee is a warrior,” said Lam. “He twisted his knee at training on Tuesday. We had actually finished training and had done the contact session, which was good, and I had the players in the huddle; it was all good.

“The boys then go and do their skills for 10 minutes afterwards, they choose what they want to do.

“Some of the backs decided they wanted a bit more tackling, so that’s their call. I was watching another station where there was catch-pass drills with some of the forwards and out of the corner of my eye, I saw everyone panic and I looked over and said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’

“He was lying on the ground and his knee had been twisted when Tiernan [O'Halloran] had tackled him. I thought, ‘Right, ignore it, don’t worry about it and let the medics deal with it.’

“He left training on crutches.

Bundee Aki and JP Cooney celebrate after the game Aki is embraced by JP Cooney at the final whistle. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“The medical team did a great job. They wanted to do a fitness test on him yesterday and I said, ‘No, no.’

“They said they just wanted to check and I said, ‘He’s got until 6.29pm [a minute before kick off] Saturday to work out if he’s going to make it.

“I asked them what the fitness test was going to be and they told me and I said our game day warm-up was tougher than that. We’ll just do the game day warm-up.

“We prepared Peter Robb for the rest of the week and we were prepared to go. It was going to be a boost it Bundee was going to make it. I saw him yesterday and he was keen to do the captain’s run and I said to take it easy.

“When we arrived to the stadium today, the physios were with him and I looked at him.

“He just gave me the thumbs up and he said he was good. He’s tough.”

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Murray Kinsella

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