CENTRE BUNDEE AKI is a major injury concern for Connacht as they begin preparations for Sunday’s Challenge Cup clash with the Exeter Chiefs in Galway.
Both sides have won three of their four Pool 2 fixtures so far this season in the European competition, although Exeter have three try-scoring bonus points to Connacht’s two [as well as a losing bonus point], ensuring the English side lead the group.
It means that Sunday’s encounter is sure to be crucial in deciding who tops the pool and moves into a strong position to secure a home quarter-final.
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Pat Lam has been clear in stating that Connacht’s priority this season is a top-six finish in the Guinness Pro12, but with that competition not set to resume until February, the province may use an experienced XV against the Chiefs.
Aki is a unlikely to be involved, however, as he undergoes an MRI on the ankle injury he sustained in Connacht’s defeat to Edinburgh at the Sportsground on Friday night. The 24-year-old appeared to be in some pain before limping off in the 77th minute, leaving Lam’s side with just 13 players on the pitch.
Aki was scheduled to have a scan on the ankle today, with Connacht expected to provide an update later this week. Even if the explosive ex-Chiefs midfielder does miss out on the Exeter fixture as expected, Lam will hope the ankle injury does not mean a longer spell on the sidelines for Aki.
Aki has struck up a promising partnership with Robbie Henshaw. Source: James Crombie/INPHO
More positively, out-half Craig Ronaldson has been cleared to resume training having completed his return-to-play protocols.
The former Lansdowne man suffered a concussion in the New Year’s Day victory over Munster, missing out on the loss to Edinburgh as a result.
Ronaldson is expected to be available for selection this weekend against the Chiefs.
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