Samoa: No special treatment for Bundee Aki

Openside flanker TJ Ioane dismissed the suggestion earlier this week that the Pacific Islanders would be preparing a special welcome for Ireland's Kiwi-born centre with Samoan roots

Samoa: No special treatment for Bundee Aki

Samoa are sticking to their script: there will be no special treatment for Bundee Aki.

The openside flanker TJ Ioane dismissed the suggestion earlier this week that the Pacific Islanders would be preparing a special welcome for Ireland's Kiwi-born centre with Samoan roots and skipper Jack Lam was of a similar mind when asked today after his captain's run.

"No special plan for him, he'll get the same treatment as everyone else,” said Lam. “Most of the boys are pretty close to him and some of them met up with him during the week. We're all friends off the field but once you cross the line we're all the same.”

Make no mistake that when Lam talks about Aki getting the same treatment then that means every Irish player will be asked to withstand a fierce physical approach from the Islanders.

Samoa full-back Tim Nanai-Williams is a close childhood friend of Aki's. The pair grew up together in the South Auckland suburb of Manurewa and lined out for the Chiefs together. The Connacht star also played alongside Ah See Tuala and Ray Lee-lo with Counties Manukau.

Links between the two teams aren't confined to Aki. Chris Vui and Jack Lam have played alongside Ian Madigan at Bristol Bears, Logovi'i Mulipola was once of Leicester Tigers where Geordan Murphy was, and is, on the staff. TJ Ioane plays under Declan Kidney at London Irish and Teofilo Paolo did until this season. The list goes on.

Another connection comes from France where the prop Paul Alo-Emile worked under Mike Prendergast and Paul O'Connell for a spell at Stade Francais. Alo-Emile is a destructive scrummager who, somewhat surprisingly, starts again on the bench against Ireland tomorrow.

"It helped me massively,” he said of his time under the Irish pair. “I'm here with Samoa but it was a huge honour playing under those guys. Paul O'Connell has great knowledge obviously, his experience in rugby.

“I really enjoyed everything he taught me but also him as a person, he is a great, great man. Mike is as well. Both of those guys are very level-headed and really helped me."

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