herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

Why Jared Payne is ready to prove himself on the world stage

Irish centre looking like the real deal ahead of World Cup opener

Ireland’s Jared Payne in Carton House, Maynooth this week
Ireland’s Jared Payne in Carton House, Maynooth this week
Joe Schmidt

The great artists - writers or painters - are the reason why the term 'simplicity is genius' came into vogue.

Ireland have been accused of basic, unappealing, try-light rugby over more than two years of unrivalled success in a country not exactly weaned on winning until the turn of this century.

Coach Joe Schmidt has stripped back the all-court advances prescribed at Leinster, tailored a narrower, lower risk approach to suit the trials and tribulations of international rugby where space and time on the ball are squeezed.

Highly skilled centre Jared Payne is the man most inconvenienced by the change-up in the standards of defence.

"Yeah, 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," he said.

"It's definitely something that I think we can look to do when we attack is subtle differences here and there and try to catch teams out."

It was just four years ago when Payne arrived into Ulster, promptly snapped his Achilles tendon and watched the World Cup from his couch.

Memories

"It wasn't the best of memories, to tell you the truth. So I haven't experienced anything like it yet.

"It was pretty grim, sitting there with your foot up, wondering if you could ever get back to things."

There is a body of opinion that Payne's free-spirited, expressive nature has been reined in and subdued by the rigid style he must adhere to where there is little room for going off-script.

"No, he (Schmidt) is pretty clear with what he wants and you just do it as best you can," he disagreed.

"He gives you lots of freedom to read the game and play what you see so I think he strikes up a pretty good balance.

"It is easy enough to get used to."

Creativity doesn't have to come in wide brush strokes where the ball is flipped from touchline to touchline.

Like everything else that emanates from Schmidt, the devil is in the detail.

The creativity comes from the design of simple plays in which each individual has a specific role that can be altered ever so slightly to devastating effect.

"It's not about certain plays for every team," shared Payne.

"It's about identifying where we feel there are opportunities against that team on that weekend and executing those well.

"It's going to be different teams, obviously Canada first up, they present different opportunities to say the Six Nations teams.

"We'll run a few plays where we feel we can get into them and see how they go."

There is a consensus Ireland have not shown the full range of their threats yet.

"I think we're ticking along well. We've worked on areas. We know the areas we need to sharpen up," Payne pointed out.

"We've identified those and identified some other areas where we can attack certain teams.

"I don't think it's a case of holding things back or what not, it's more what we think is going to suit the opposition for that week and putting those things out on the weekend and getting them right.

"We've probably been a bit off with our accuracy, which is not the best, but we know where it is and we've just got to sharpen up in those areas."

It would be naïve in the extreme to make any evaluation of Ireland from the evidence on offer from their four Test matches against Wales (twice), Scotland and England.

Power

"I think every team is different. There are some teams that are trying to blow people off the field I guess with power," said Payne.

"There are the teams that subtlely try to manoeuvre you into situations, so look everyone is different.

"There is no set in stone way of winning rugby these days and that is the beauty of the World Cup.

"You might come up against teams that might have never seen before and who play in a completely different way than you are used to and catch you off your guard.

"It is up to us to do our homework over the next few days and when the team is announced really clamp down on those guys and make sure we have all of our boxes ticked."

Ireland's rise to the peak of their physical powers is charted to happen when they stand across from Italy at Olympic Park on October 4.

Canada, on Saturday, and Romania, eight days later, allow for Ireland to build their way into the tournament, the first Payne has played in.

"It's business as usual but there is that added bit of pressure, being the first World Cup game.

"Oh, I can't wait. It's going to be awesome.

"I've chatted to a few boys who have been to them before and they've said that the support that the Irish give you is unreal.

"I can't wait to get over there and see what it's all about."

For starters, Ireland must get out to a convincing win against Canada. France can wait for another day.

"You don't want to be relying on other teams to get you results. You want to get your wins, be in control of your destiny."

Promoted articles

Entertainment News