Jared Payne admits he sometimes got on the wrong side of Joe Schmidt, due to the former Ulster and Ireland star’s relaxed attitude. But Payne has paid tribute to Schmidt’s attention to detail and ability to get the best out of players.
“He’s a great coach,” said Payne, of the Ireland boss, ahead of Ulster’s PRO14 test against Cardiff at the Kingspan on Saturday afternoon.
“Obviously he’s stepping away in a year or so and he’ll be pretty keen to finish on a high.
“What he wants, he gets that across. He has an amazing eye for detail and keeps you honest as a player, and he’s a nice guy too. When he puts it all together, he’s pretty good.”
Payne had to retire last May due to a head trauma sustained while playing on the 2017 Lions tour to the country of his birth and still suffers with recurring headaches.
He came across his fellow New Zealander when he arrived at Ulster nearly eight years ago, but he says that Schmidt was determined to get what he wanted out of you.
“He was intense, and that got the best out of you,” said Payne who played 20 times for Ireland and 78 times for Ulster.
“I probably pissed him off once or twice by being too relaxed with him, but he’s good.”
Payne was equally enthusiastic about current Ireland defence coach Andy Farrell, the man set to replace Schmidt when he departs after next year’s World Cup.
“Faz (Farrell) is a great coach as well. He’s a bit different to Joe in some aspects, but I think he’ll have learnt a lot off Joe and he’s going to put his own slant on it. Though I’m not sure exactly what he’ll bring just being a defence coach.
“I’ve been under him, he’s a great guy, gets on well with players, knows what he wants and gets his message across the same way as Joe. Joe’s exactly the same, but just does it in a different manner but it will be interesting to see how he goes.”
Payne is in regular touch with the former England dual union and league international. “He rings up for a chat now and again to see what the craic is. He’s always available on the phone, which is always good.”
Ulster’s international hooker Rob Herring was also full of praise of both Schmidt and Farrell.
“Joe has been a great coach, the way he gets things out of his players, gets what’s he wants out of the players. I haven’t seen anything like it before,” said
Herring, who was called up by Schmidt for his international debut against Argentina in 2014 and earned his third cap in the win over the US Eagles last Saturday.
“He said it himself, that there is a big 10 months coming up. What he has contributed to Irish rugby has been incredible.
“Probably his attention to detail is second to none. He expects everything to be exactly spot on. That’s the environment he has brought to Ireland.”
Herring is confident Farrell is the right man to maintain that approach.
“He’s a great defence coach. You can see the accolades that he has achieved as a defence coach speaks for itself, and the way he has the boys defending has taken us to a new level. He a great guy as well, and he’s the right man for the job when Joe leaves.”