Bundee Aki has dominated every game he's started for Ireland in this World Cup, and is the best player currently in France, according to Stuart Barnes.
Ireland lead Pool B after winning all three of their World Cup games so far. Bonus points against Romania and Tonga, and a powerful performance against South Africa most recently, have the world number one side all but guaranteed to be in the top spot for the quarter finals.
In two of their three wins so far, Aki has been named player of the match, with many questioning why he wasn't given the accolade against Romania in game one as well.
Regardless, Aki's physicality, defence, try-scoring acumen and overall ability thus far has been a massive reason for Ireland's dominance over their opposition.
'Bundee Aki is the best player at this World Cup!'
Speaking on Wednesday Night Rugby, The Times' Stuart Barnes admitted that he'd doubted Aki's pedigree prior to the clash with South Africa, but that quickly changed after full time.
"I wrote a piece, and it was sort of tongue and cheek, saying, 'is Bundee Aki really the best player in the World Cup because of stats?' before the game," Barnes said.
"I came out of that game... thinking, 'Jesus Christ, he is the best player in the World Cup!' It isn't just about the number of tackles, or the dominance of the tackles.
"It was where the tackles came. Aki made one tackle, on Jesse Kriel. Kriel had to score the try, and [Aki] stopped him dead. It was incredible.
"Then, two minutes later, he made a 60 metre surging run. Not long after that, Ireland scored. This was as much about gladiatorial combat as [it was about] rugby."
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