Schmidt and Best deserved more fitting finale, says Payne

Jared Payne has insisted Joe Schmidt’s record as Ireland head coach is beyond reproach and feels sorry his fellow New Zealander and Rory Best are not leaving on the high they deserved.

Schmidt and Best deserved more fitting finale, says Payne

Jared Payne has insisted Joe Schmidt’s record as Ireland head coach is beyond reproach and feels sorry his fellow New Zealander and Rory Best are not leaving on the high they deserved. Payne was capped 20 times for Ireland under Schmidt, and played alongside Best for both Ulster and Ireland, and felt Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final mauling by the All Blacks was “mean”.

“What Joe has done with the Irish camp, the way he’s turned rugby round down there, it’s disappointing for them both to go out like that. Sport is a bit of a — call it something pretty mean that you can’t really call it — sport is not the nicest thing at times, unfortunately.

“They didn’t get the kind of send-off they deserved. Everyone has said it all about the two of them, but the type of leader, the type of character Rory is, the way he fronts up every weekend is pretty awesome and he is a special person with both Ulster and Ireland and I’ve enjoyed my time under him.

“I think they can both hold their heads high.”

Payne was invited by Schmidt to be part of his coaching staff for the 2018 summer tour in Australia, with Ireland recording their first series win Down Under in 39 years. Now as Ulster’s defence coach, he can only have watched their shattering World Cup exit with a mixture of despair, and admiration for his native country.

I thought the All Blacks were very good and Ireland weren’t as good as they could be. It was a good All Blacks team and Ireland missed a few opportunities and then the All Blacks didn’t really let them get back into the game.

“You’ve got to say ‘fair play’ to the All Blacks and a bit disappointing for Rory and Joe to go out on that sort of performance. If you don’t front up against the best team in the world and you let them into the game, and you can’t get yourself into the game, it’s going to be a long night at the office.

“The All Blacks were pretty clinical early on. It’s not nice but that’s sport. Sometimes you can have a great week, prepare, tick all the boxes and turn up and sometimes a team knocks you over early and you can’t get back off the canvas.”

Payne says he has “no idea” whether Rob Herring and Jordi Murphy will be made available to Ulster for Friday’s PRO14 home game against Cardiff Blues, having just returned from Japan.

Iain Henderson and Jacob Stockdale, who both saw plenty of game time at the World Cup, will be reintegrated more slowly.

Rory Best has now retired from professional duty but when asked if it will be strange not to have the hooker back at Kingspan Stadium, Payne smiled: “He likes the free feeds. I’m sure he’ll rock up once or twice for a free lunch here and there.”

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox