Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said Bundee Aki was shattered that his Rugby World Cup could be over as he defended the centre's tackle that drew a red card in the 47-5 win over Samoa on Saturday.
Aki was sent off in the 29th minute after a high tackle at Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium and faces a multiple-game suspension, souring the emphatic victory that put Ireland through to the quarter-finals.
Ousted: Referee Nic Berry shows Bundee Aki a red card as Ireland captain Rory Best and Samoa skipper Jack Lam look on at Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium.Credit:Getty Images
"I've known Bundee for a long, long time, he’s a great man with great character.
"Hopefully the powers that be see some sense and he gets to continue on in the tournament because he’s a great kid."
Although down to 14 men early in the match, Ireland responded well and ended up running in seven tries as Samoa crumbled with indiscipline and shoddy defence.
Schmidt said he was pleased with how Ireland managed to starve the Samoans of possession and controlled the game by playing to their strengths in the scrum and the maul.
They will face champions New Zealand or South Africa in the quarter-finals, depending on the outcome of the Scotland-Japan game on Sunday, assuming it goes ahead.
"The second half probably wasn’t great to watch but it was comforting to know we were in the right side of the pitch," said Schmidt.
"I felt that tactically we were relatively solid once we lost Bundee."
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