Jared Payne is confident that what Ireland may lack in size at this World Cup they can more than compensate for with skill and subtlety in attack.
Joe Schmidt’s side kick off their Pool D campaign in Cardiff on Saturday against tier-two Canada, who despite their lower world ranking and mix of professional and amateur players will still be able to pack a punch in terms of physicality, not least in direct opposition to Payne and his midfield cohorts.
“There’s some big ball carriers there,” the 6ft 2ins and 15st Payne said of the Canadians. “Sean Reidy, a friend up in New Zealand, said he played with a few of them back there, they were travelling around, and he said they’re big, direct boys who push a lot of tin. When you look through their team, they’re big boys, they’re the opposite to me, probably, they love the gym and love smashing around, so it’s going to be a good test for me physically.
“I just can’t wait, it’s going to be tough when you have guys like (wings) Jeff Hassler and DTH (van der Merwe) sniffing opportunities the way they do. It’s going to be a massive test but I just can’t wait.”
Payne, who was at Ulster during the last World Cup but crocked with a snapped Achilles’ tendon, suggested it was a misconception that most midfields will be packed with bulkier opponents than he during the tournament.
“I suppose there is a bit of a balance now. There is normally one big bopper in there and then one guy that is a bit smaller. I guess it is part of rugby, I was never the biggest player growing up playing and you just get used to it.
“There is always someone bigger and stronger than you in rugby and you have just got to make sure you have your wits about you. You have to shut them down and do that the best you can.
“The way Joe looks at the game and the subtle variations he brings to it, he’s unrivalled in the coaching world for that sort of detail.”
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