Tuesday 24 October 2017

Jared Payne: If there are weaknesses in an opposition's aerial game you go after it

Jared Payne in action during squad training
Jared Payne in action during squad training
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

IRELAND's aerial dominance and the strength of the defences in this year's Six Nations have stirred a debate about the state of the game in rugby circles, but the tournament leaders are not getting involved.

After watching Wales beat France and Ireland overcome England last weekend, All Black coach Steve Hansen was moved to call for a review of the rule-book, how many points a try should be worth and for his fellow coaches to look beyond the end result and think about the impact they're having on the spectacle.

"I think there's a responsibility on the coaches and the players as well. We are all trying to get defensive lines up really quickly, but I think we've probably gone too far with it," Hansen told WalesOnline.

"For the game to thrive, it's got to be policed. The refs and touch judges have got to police it and we as coaches and players, we've got to push to have people onside.

"There's a responsibility to the game. If we don't do that, then we are not going to have any running rugby.

"There were only three tries scored in the two games I went to over the weekend. No-one is prepared to take the risk, because they are going to get belted behind the advantage line if they move the ball."

You won't hear Ireland complaining, however, with Jared Payne (above) yesterday laughing off any perceived criticism of Ireland's style of play.

"Look, it's different conditions and there are a whole lot of different factors, aren't there?" he said.

"The fact is that defences have been getting a lot better and if there is a weakness in the opposition's aerial game, you go to it, don't you? And if it's working, there's no point in changing it.

"So people can say what they want, we're happy enough with what we're doing and we'll keep plugging away."

Weakness

After the win over England, Joe Schmidt spoke about allowing the players enjoy the result, but that only extended until Wednesday when they returned to the review room where the coach's notoriously high standards and drive for improvement kicked into gear once again.

"He runs over the games with a fine-tooth comb and yeah it was probably even a bit tougher than it has been," Payne explained. "Because it was a good game and it is human nature maybe to open up a bit more after something like that.

"Once we got into it, we realised we made a few errors and he pulled us up on them and we are hoping to improve on those and get better.

"I guess you want that as a player. You do not want to be walking into the room and think, 's**t I played a fair game' and you probably get cut up a bit. You want to look to improve as a player and it is great that the coach will always pull you up on something.

"He will pull you up if you have done something wrong, but if you have done something well he will congratulate you. He strikes up a good balance."

Despite being forced off with 10 minutes to go of Sunday's win, Payne says he is "good as gold" for the Wales game after his "wee bump to the head".

Irish Independent

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