Bundee Aki insists he will treat facing Samoa exactly the same way he took on New Zealand last November.

The Ireland centre was born in Auckland to Samoan parents and starred with the Chiefs before joining Connacht in 2014.

Aki admitted it would be a source of huge family pride should he get the nod to take on Samoa in Fukuoka on Saturday.

“That would be a proud moment, if I do get to that stage,” said Aki.

The 29-year-old played in Ireland’s famous win over the All Blacks and produced the perfect riposte to New Zealand coach Ian Foster, who had quipped “he looks like an Irishman now doesn’t he” ahead of the game in Dublin.

“I would treat it exactly the same way as I focused on playing against New Zealand,” said Aki on potential selection in Ireland’s final Pool A match.

“I’ve just got to try and focus on what I can do best for the team first, and we’ll see how we go this week and hopefully I can help the team put in a good performance.”

Asked if facing the Test teams with whom he shares heritage brings out the best in him, Aki said: “I think I’ve alluded to it plenty already about the residency rule, and look everybody has their own opinion like I said; they have a right to do that.

“But for me I’m just going to try to do the best I can for this jersey, try to play well and if I get the chance to play on the field I’ll try my best to do everyone proud as I always do.

“So I’ll just try to play as well as I can, that’s all I can do as a player.”

Bundee Aki

Head coach Joe Schmidt gave his players the weekend off in a bid to refresh minds and bodies ahead of the decisive Samoa encounter, which Ireland need to win by a bonus-point to secure passage to the quarter-finals.

The Kiwi boss insisted that Ireland will not use any of their time ahead of Samoa as preparation for a potential quarter-final against New Zealand or South Africa.

“I do think we’ve got to take it one game at a time, particularly having lost to Japan,” said Schmidt.

“So we will set our sights on Samoa because we need to win there to have a chance of qualifying and as I said if we get a win with a little bit more we know we’re in a quarter-final, we control that ourselves.

“And in the end, when you get to a quarter-final everything hinges on the quarter-final itself.

“It becomes very much a one-off game and one thing I learned from last time at the World Cup is that you can be on an upswing but things can change if you’ve got injuries or you’ve got a little bit of a confidence hit because you’ve got a number of new guys in.”