Rugby World Cup 2019: Samoa defend Bundee Aki after Ireland centre sees red

Samoa coach Steve Jackson has leapt to the defence of Ireland centre Bundee Aki, saying he shouldn't be suspended, after being sent off for a dangerous tackle.

Aki received a straight red card from referee Nic Berry in the first half of Ireland's 47-5 win over Samoa, following his hit on Ulupano Seuteni.

Jackson insisted there was no malice in Aki's hit and shared his hope that he would play some part in the remainder of Ireland's tournament.

NZ-born Aki became the seventh player sent off at this year's Rugby World Cup. 

"I don't know if I should comment on it," Jackson said. "It's the mitigating factors again, whether they drop in height and those sort of things.

"As you all know, it's the toss of a coin at the moment. Nic Berry refereed the game well.

"I've known Bundee for a long time and what a great man he is. He's got great character and he doesn't go out there to do harm to anybody. 

"Hopefully, the powers that be see some sense and hopefully, he gets to continue on in this tournament, because he's a great kid and he deserves it as much as most.

"We'll do everything we possibly can, from a Samoan perspective, to make sure that he gets on that field next week.

"Was there malice in Bundee's tackle? No, he's just physical in the collisions, being a Samoan boy.

"There's always that mitigating factor about how low did someone go.

"Defenders have got to make decision within a split second. If you look at Bundee's tackle again, UJ came with the ball at pace, and I think he only had two or three metres to make a decision, as to what sort of tackle he might put in.

"That's what they're asking the players to do now. In a split second, you've got to make the right decision about what sort of tackle you're going to make, which is extremely difficult.

"I wish Bundee all the best."

Samoan captain Jack Lam echoed his coach's thoughts.

"No hard feelings at all. We just said to Bundee how we feel.

"Hopefully, it doesn't get ruined by him missing a couple of weeks out of the game. Hopefully, we get to see him in the finals."

Samoa finished the World Cup with just one win, which came in their opening game against Russia. 

Their tournament was overshadowed by ill-discipline, as across four games, they had six players shown yellow cards and two sent off. 

Six yellows is twice the haul of the next most-offending teams - Australia, Fiji and Russia.

Jackson hopes that when the next World Cup rolls around, more Samoan players decide to play for their country and is urging World Rugby to help the smaller nations. 

"It's a difficult decision, it's their livelihood," he said, of the Samoans who had opted out.

"I don't have the answers... It would have been good if we were a little bit more successful at this tournament."

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