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'Is Payne Really A Test Centre?' - The British Media Reaction To Ireland Vs Wales

'Is Payne Really A Test Centre?' - The British Media Reaction To Ireland Vs Wales
By PJ Browne Updated

It's hard to know what to feel about a draw. Whether or not it is viewed as a success will likely come with hindsight on the final weekend of the Six Nations.

Ireland/Wales got top billing on our daily sports podcast The Racket this afternoon:

The general media consensus following Sunday is Ireland and Wales offered up the most entertaining fare of the three games. There was also plenty of positivity regarding Ireland's performance due to the number of players unavailable due to injury.

Writing for The Telegraph, Tom Cary has questioned the merits of Jared Payne as test centre. The New Zealand-born back has never played anywhere else for Ireland under Joe Schmidt. However, with Ulster, the 30-year-old is a potent attack force at 15.

Is Jared Payne really a Test centre? Schmidt played him at 13, outside Robbie Henshaw, in last year's victorious Six Nations campaign. And it served Ireland well so you couldn't really argue with his logic on Sunday. But Ulster's New Zealand-born player does not entirely convince there.

He is a natural full-back and Rob Kearney needs competition in that position.

In his match report, Cary was full of praise for the Irish defence. Who needs Andy Farrell?

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Ireland looked well organised, defensively sound - giving away just seven penalties all game - and surprisingly ambitious considering the apprehension that wafted in the Dublin air pre-match, racing into a 13-0 lead in under half an hour.

In the Welsh media, there was consternation that Jamie Roberts did not receive the Man Of The Match award.

Roberts completed a monstrous 21 tackles as he chopped down wave after wave of Irish attacking play in a brutal Six Nations contest.

With just minutes remaining of the match, Wales fans waited for Roberts' outstanding efforts to be rewarded with the inevitable man of the match award.

But then, to their astonishment, the news came through that Ireland's CJ Stander had in fact been bestowed with the honour....

The answer? Well, the award was actually dished out by Irish broadcasters RTE which probably explains why Stander, who was admittedly impressive, got the nod.

The Six Nations is a second tier competition was the general feeling following the southern hemisphere's seizure of all four semi-final berths at the World Cup. The north requires a shift in its rugby philosophy. Writing for The Guardian, Eddie Butler felt the pace of change will frustrate many, though did leave room for optimism.

The game settled into what they seem to call an arm-wrestle.

Such manifestations of the old tribal rivalries of the Six Nations are not without their charm and their menace. It is what we have paid good money to see down the years. We loved nothing better than to see mates from Lions tours beat each other up.

We are supposed to be changing our ways, although the first weekend revealed that the speed of change may be more at a prop’s pace than George North’s. It may also be worth remembering that the All Blacks, who set the standards of invention that we must all replicate, began their World Cup campaign with a fairly flaky performance against Argentina.

The Guardian's Michael Aylwin believes Wales did little to dispel views of them as 'one-dimensional'.

Wales’s approach was as belligerent as ever. Accusations, however unfair, that they are one-dimensional will not be shaken off by this performance, which yielded not a single line-break. They scored only one try, and that from a dominant scrum, but a barrage in the last 10 minutes did offer a last chance for Priestland to endear himself further to his sometimes-sceptical public. Alas, he pulled his drop-goal attempt to the left, having missed another at the start of the second half.

The likely return of Sean O'Brien for Ireland's trip to France this weekend, creating a wrecking-ball duo with CJ Stander, has Jeremy Guscott - writing for BBC Sport - believing we should be 'licking out lips' at the prospect of taking on a lacklustre French side.

Ireland were missing some world-class players in Sean O'Brien, Peter O'Mahony and Rob Kearney, and they can take consolation that they emerged unbeaten from a match that was of a higher quality than the other two on the opening weekend.

If O'Brien especially is fit for next week they will be licking their lips with the chance of getting their teeth stuck into a France pack that looked pedestrian against Italy.

Three Irish players made The Telegraph's Team of the Weekend with Devin Toner, CJ Stander and Conor Murray impressing.

Of the Munster backrow, they said:

What a debut. Stander was everywhere, making 23 carries and generally looking like a man possessed. The first of many, many caps on that form.

Stander and Murray along with Jack McGrath also made The Daily Mail's best XV of the opening weekend.

Again, praise for Stander was effusive.

What a debut. The prospect of him and Sean O'Brien working together in tandem will France and the rest of the Six Nations worried.

Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Read: CJ Stander Explains How He Was Able To Learn The Words To Amhrán na bhFiann

Read: The Welsh Press Are Baffled By The Man Of The Match Call In Yesterday's Game

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