Darren Cave has warned the TV pundits to stick to the facts when criticising Ireland’s World Cup performances, in an impassioned defence of team-mate Jared Payne.
Centre Cave admitted he would have been annoyed to be hit with the kind of flak that Payne received from TV3 analyst and former Ulster boss Matt Williams after Ireland’s 44-10 victory over Romania.
Jared Payne has been criticised by some in recent days.
Ex-Scotland coach Williams slammed Payne for “making really poor decisions” and kicking too frequently against Romania – but Cave believes the New Zealand-born centre is in prime form.
“In fairness to Jared I’d be surprised if he’s paid much attention to it, but if it was me I would probably be pretty annoyed,” said Cave.
“It can be frustrating when guys are just throwing out opinions which aren’t based on facts of what actually happened in the game, then suddenly that becomes everyone else’s opinion of guys who’ve had a couple of beers and watched the game.
“Then after a week it’s the perception of half the nation and it’s just completely false.
“At the end of the day it can be frustrating at times but Jared will do the right thing, he’ll keep his head down, he’ll keep working hard and he’ll keep playing well for Ireland.
“The first I heard about it was after Tommy (Bowe) had been in Monday’s press conference, because Tommy and I had actually had a chat last week about how much we were both looking forward to playing beside him.
“So Tommy brought it up but it’s not something that consumes us.
“I actually thought the Canada game was potentially Jared’s best game in green.
“I haven’t seen fully what was said about him but I’ve seen a few things.
“And it’s just opinion at the end of the day, it’s not really based on fact.
“I heard about him apparently kicking the ball away too much but I think he kicked the ball twice and both times it was penalty advantage, and both times we went back for the penalty.
“So we’ll deal with facts not opinions.
“And I really enjoyed playing alongside him when I was named at 12 and he was named at 13 beside me, I knew I’d feel very comfortable in there.”
Rob Kearney remains a doubt for the vital Pool D clash against Italy on Sunday after scans confirmed a minor gluteal tear, but Ireland bosses expect the full-back to recover in time to start at London’s Olympic Stadium.
Kearney suffered a bang to his hip and the minor muscle tear in his buttock in scoring almost straight after coming off the bench in Ireland’s landslide victory over Romania at Wembley on Sunday.
Ireland can secure quarter-final qualification by seeing off Italy this weekend, and ought to have Keith Earls back in action after the Munster flyer completed his head-injury protocols following a bang to the neck at the weekend.
Cave is keen to hold onto the 12 shirt and continue his midfield partnership with Payne after a solid effort against Romania, but may struggle given Robbie Henshaw’s return to full fitness after hamstring trouble.
“Jared’s an incredible communicator and a lot of his qualities, you can almost see the way he’s been brought up, everything he does is so simple,” said Cave.
“I think he sees space really well, he makes really good, strong decisions on the ball and he’s a good communicator so he’s really good to defend with.
“And at the end of the day you want to play with guys who make your job easier, and the amount of information he gives you, I think he’s done very well for Ireland over the past while.
“And if anything I suppose I’d be a bit jealous that I haven’t got as many games as he has over the last year and done as well as he has.”