Sunday 24 February 2019

Jared Payne: I've no regrets about choosing to play for Ireland

Irishman isn't bothered by George Hook criticism

Ireland's Jared Payne
Ireland's Jared Payne
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

JARED PAYNE says he is not affected by criticism of his role in Ireland's defeat to Wales but conceded he is an easy target because he qualified to play for his adopted country through residency.

The centre was described as a "second-rate foreign player" by analyst George Hook on RTE after Saturday's defeat at the Millennium Stadium, but he refused to rise to the bait as preparations continued for this weekend's finale in Scotland.

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinions," said Payne. "I didn't hear it all. I haven't really watched any of that sort of thing. People that say that type of stuff have their opinions."

Asked about the sacrifices he has made to move to Ireland from New Zealand and spend three years with Ulster in order to qualify, he said: "It's a fairly, big one, isn't it? You only get to see your parents four weeks out of the year.

"It is a fairly big thing leaving your family and your home and all of your mates. Look, it's something I thought about and I have no regrets about it."

Joe Schmidt put his squad through their paces at Carton House yesterday and the Ireland coach has no injury worries ahead of the last game of the Championship at Murrayfield.

Forwards coach Simon Easterby said there would not be sweeping changes to the team that lost 23-16 in Cardiff, but Schmidt may make one or two tweaks. He could look to rotate members of his front-row with Cian Healy back to full fitness, while Sean Cronin is breathing down Rory Best's neck after the lineout malfunctioned last weekend.

In the backs, Simon Zebo's position would appear vulnerable after a below-par showing in Wales as Luke Fitzgerald pushes for selection, but Schmidt looks set to keep faith with his centres.

Read more: George Hook slated on Twitter for calling Jared Payne a 'second rate foreign player'

Read more: Video: RTE's Shane Horgan visibly underwhelmed by George Hook's Pamela Anderson reference

Irish Independent

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