Payne criticism 'not based on fact, I thought it was one of Jared's best games' -- Cave

Darren Cave won’t be joining the chorus of criticism for his team-mate and centre rival.

Sean Farrell reports from Guildford

DARREN CAVE FLAT out isn’t buying the sudden scathing criticism being leveled at the man keeping him out of Ireland’s number 13 jersey.

Not making breaks and running across field were among the black marks against the Kiwi-born back, according TV3 pundit Matt Williams.

Richardt Strauss and Jared Payne with Ovidiu Tonita Payne goes on the Jackal while Richard Strauss tackles. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

As the man who was working closest with Payne during the 44 – 10 win over Romania, Cave is a long way removed from joining the chorus led by his former Ulster coach.

“I actually thought the Canada game was potentially Jared’s best game in green,” Cave said when he was corralled for media duties in the squad’s new Surrey base today.

“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.

“I really enjoyed playing alongside him when I was named at 12 and he was named at 13 beside me, I knew I’d feel very comfortable in there.”

Opinions are still required somewhere along the line though. You can’t pick a team on facts and stats alone. So here’s Cave’s view on the man who arrived to Ulster to be a fullback but has latterly forced the natural 13 to think more about 12.

“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.

Darren Cave James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“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.

“And 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.”

Criticism from the pundit box? Cave would be annoyed if he was the target, but would surely bite Matt Williams’ hand off for some barbs if it meant he was in Payne’s position.

“The first I heard (of it) was after Tommy had done media yesterday, because Tommy and I had actually had a chat last week about how much we were both looking forward to playing beside (Payne).

Darren Cave Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“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.

“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, 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.

“At the end of the day it can be frustrating at times but Jared will do the right thing, he’ll keep his head down, he’ll keep working hard and he’ll keep playing well for Ireland.”

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