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By Athenkosi Tsotsi

Sports Reporter

Bundee Aki isn’t Stormers’ only focus, says defence coach

The Capetonians are in Ireland and they'll be looking for another overseas win against Connacht this weekend.

Stormers defence coach Norman Laker won’t put special plans in place to stop Ireland international Bundee Aki on Saturday when they take on Connacht in the United Rugby Championship at Dexcom Stadium (kick-off 6.05pm).

The side from the Cape have a tough task in Galway, Ireland as they will take on a Connacht outfit that will view this game as a make-or-break in their push for a URC playoff spot.

With two rounds left in the URC regular season, Connacht are in ninth place with 44 points. The Stormers are in fifth place with 50 points and are looking to be in sync ahead of the playoffs. 

If the Stormers are to walk away with a win on Saturday, they will have to neutralise the influential Aki.  

Aki is one player that moves the needle in rugby. His displays for Ireland in last year’s World Cup proved why many consider him one of the best inside centres in the world. 

‘No special plans for phenomenal Aki’

 Despite the danger he brings, Stormers defence guru Laker won’t pay too much attention to Aki but rather trust his defensive system.

“We played against him in Stellenbosch (last time), he’s a phenomenal player. He’s a tough guy who gets them going forward,” said Laker.

“Once again, if you focus on the one guy then the next guy next to him will run through. The guys that will be defending Bundee Aki must look after him and the guys on the inside and outside of him. 

“I learnt my lesson in the past on putting too much emphasis on the one player and on the day he doesn’t carry the ball, he actually makes passes.

“You prepare so much for that individual that the guys around him look good. Within the system everyone understands it and knows when to apply pressure on certain individuals who are playmakers,” he said.

‘They put teams under pressure’

Laker said the Stormers are anticipating Connacht to bring the traditional Irish attacking style of rugby to their contest.

“It doesn’t matter who you play against (in the URC), it’s all quality sides,” said Laker. 

“The way they keep the ball in hand to put teams under pressure, they have a great attacking system which can stretch the defence. So, if you’re not on song defensively, they can hurt you and score from anywhere on the field.”