Sport Rugby World Cup

Friday 27 April 2018

'I would be pretty annoyed' - Darren Cave slams Matt Williams for Jared Payne criticism

Ireland's Darren Cave is taken down by Romania's Florin Ionita
Ireland's Darren Cave is taken down by Romania's Florin Ionita

Cian Tracey in Guilford

Darren Cave has brushed off the criticism of Jared Payne that was aimed at him by Matt Williams.

The former Leinster and Ulster coach claimed that Ireland have “huge issues” in the centre while Payne was ticking “just about every box for doing things wrong as an outside-centre in attack".

Cave played inside Payne in the win over Romania on Sunday and he admitted that if, what he perceives as ‘unfounded criticism’ was aimed at him, he would be extremely frustrated.

“In fairness to Jared I’d be surprised if he’s paid much attention to it, but if it was me I would probably be pretty annoyed,” Cave said.

“It can be frustrating when guys are just throwing out opinions which aren’t based on facts of what actually happened in the game, then suddenly that becomes everyone else’s opinion of guys who’ve had a couple of beers and watched the game.

“Then after a week it’s the perception of half the nation and it’s just completely false.

“I actually thought the Canada game was potentially Jared’s best game in green.

“I haven’t seen fully what was said about him but I’ve seen a few things. And it’s just opinion at the end of the day, it’s not really based on fact.

“I heard about him apparently kicking the ball away too much but I think he kicked the ball twice and both times it was penalty advantage, and both times we went back for the penalty.

“So we’ll deal with facts not opinions.”

Cave has regularly played in Ulster’s midfield alongside the Kiwi and he explained what he brings to the side.

“He’s an incredible communicator, and a lot of his qualities, you can almost see the way he’s been brought up, everything he does is so simple,” he maintained.

“I think he sees space really well, he makes really good, strong decisions on the ball and he’s a good communicator so he’s really good to defend with.

“And at the end of the day you want to play with guys who make your job easier, and the amount of information he gives you, I think he’s done very well for Ireland over the past while.

“If anything I suppose I’d be a bit jealous that I haven’t got as many games as he has over the last year and done as well as he has.”

Cave was perhaps surprisingly left out of the team to play Canada after Robbie Henshaw pulled up with a hamstring injury.

The Ulster player had been largely perceived as the next in line to play at inside centre but he insisted that he understood Joe Schmidt’s decision to go with Luke Fitzgerald instead.

“Well, I was hopeful when I heard that Robbie is going to be unavailable. I was hopeful but at the end of the day, Luke Fitzgerald is a fantastic player. He’s a British (and Irish) Lion and has 30/40 caps.

“I was disappointed but at the same time, I understood the selection and given Luke’s performance, he justified the confidence that was put in him.”

Henshaw is expected to return face Italy on Saturday, which may limit Cave’s involvement, but after his decent performance in Wembley, he is remaining confident.

“It’s probably a hard one to answer because I was happy with how I went but I thought the boys went very well last weekend as well,” he responded when asked if he felt he had done enough to force Schmidt’s hand.

“Robbie is definitely going to come into the fray over the next wee while. I think he’s done enough over the last few years in a green jersey – both with Connacht and Ireland – to warrant a go in the coming weeks.

“At the end of the day, I just have to control what I can and that’s playing as well as I can and trying to help the team. I wasn’t perfect at the weekend but overall I was happy enough.”

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