Bundee Aki says he overreacted after Pat Lam’s decision to step down

Bundee Aki has admitted he over-reacted to Pat Lam’s shock decision to step down as Connacht coach at the end of the season.

Aki tweeted ‘feeling pissed’ after Lam called the squad together earlier this month and announced he was leaving the Sportsground a year early to take up a deal with Bristol.

Aki, in big demand after being named PRO12 player of the season in Connacht’s march to glory, had weeks earlier signed a new three-year contract extension.

Lam had brought Aki to Connacht from New Zealand but now the 26-year old says he has come to terms with the decision and is looking forward to his future at the Sportsground.

“Certainly I think I over-reacted. Pat has had a big influence on all of the boys, and especially myself, he has really improved my game.

“You have got to move on in rugby. That’s part of why people come and go and you have to enjoy every partnership you have and every professional you play with,” said Aki.

Meanwhile, the decision by a concussion review group not to sanction Northampton over their handling of George North’s latest head injury episode has been strongly criticised.

North appeared to have lost consciousness following an aerial collision with Leicester’s Adam Thompstone in an Aviva Premiership match on December 3, yet he passed a head injury assessment (HIA) and returned to the field of play.

The Concussion Management Review Group (CMRG) set up to investigate the incident concluded that while there was “sufficient evidence” to end North’s involvement the match, the club did not “intentionally ignore the player’s best interests”.

Northampton and/or individual medical staff could have been charged with misconduct by the Rugby Football Union, but the CMRG opted against referring the matter for sanction and instead outlined nine recommendations.

Brain injury charity Headway has expressed its alarm at the outcome of the review, while a sports injury lawyer described the failure to take disciplinary action as a “backwards step”.

“We are concerned with these findings,” Headway chief executive Peter McCabe said. “Serious questions have to be asked regarding the protocols: are they fit for purpose and are they being properly enforced?

“This incident sends out a confusing message around the issue of concussion, particularly for children who follow the example of famous players and favourite clubs.”

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