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O'Driscoll And Bowe On Why Some Fans And Pundits Are Wrong About Payne

O'Driscoll And Bowe On Why Some Fans And Pundits Are Wrong About Payne

Yesterday, we threw our two cents in and tried to rally against the wave of criticism that Jared Payne has been getting after the games against Canada and Romania. As tends to happen some people agreed with that opinion, some didn't.

Payne splits opinion more than anyone else in the Irish squad. Some see him as a crucial part of the Joe Schmidt gameplan while others can't looks past his relative lack of creativity in midfield. That criticism has come to a head once more with Matt Williams' criticism this weekend.

However, as tends to happen with Payne, those inside the camp couldn't be more up front with their praise for what he brings to the team. This time it was Tommy Bowe's turn to act as defensive cover for his Ulster teammate.

As a squad, we know what a talented player Jared is. He has a lot of time on the ball and he makes it easy for us wingers and people inside and outside him to play with because he's just so consistent.

His communication is very good from a defensive point of view and he's probably one of the best passers of the ball in the squad. He has a bit of X-Factor about him when he gets the opportunity to put it on.

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Alongside those comments, the man whom many are judging Payne against, Brian O'Driscoll was speaking on Off The Ball last night and he addressed the problem that many fans have with Payne. His supposed lack of creativity.

I don't mind a guy that doesn't always offload. I'm not looking for Sonny Bill where the exception to the rule is he actually takes the ball to ground and they recycle.

What I like about Jared is that he looks for it and if it's there great, but he doesn't force it. He'll take the ball into contact if he has to. I really have to say any of the stick he has gotten is completely unfounded. I really believe he is the glue in this team that is combining what we have at half-back with the talent we have on our wings and full-back now.

With Robbie Henshaw set to return for the clash against Italy on Sunday, you'd have to think that Payne will get a chance to rekindle his partnership with the Connacht man. There may be calls for Darren Cave to slot in there but if Payne keeps providing the defensive solidity that Schmidt asks of him, it seems very unlikely that he'll lose his starting spot any time soon.

Gary Reilly

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