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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

O’Connell Praises Payne’s ‘Calm Influence’

O’Connell Praises Payne’s ‘Calm Influence’

Captain Paul O’Connell has described the injury-enforced withdrawal of Jared Payne from Ireland’s Rugby World Cup squad as ‘a big loss’.

News filtered through this morning that scans had revealed a foot fracture for Jared Payne, meaning he will play no further part in the tournament.

Considering Payne was ever-present at outside centre during Ireland’s successful defence of their Six Nations crown and he started the RWC pool wins over Canada and Romania, scoring a try in the Cardiff opener, his departure is a sizable setback for Joe Schmidt’s men.

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Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s Pool D decider with France, Paul O’Connell admitted: “Jared is a big loss. What he’s done in the short time he’s played for Ireland has been incredible.

“From an Irish context he has a very calm influence on people. Great chat on the pitch, telling you what to do in one very short sentence. Very good for the backs. Very good for Johnny (Sexton), very good for Robbie Henshaw.

“Very clever defender and attacker. He isn’t that old (at 29), but he had an elder statesman presence around the place in terms of how he did things. For the journey he’s been on to get here, it was hugely disappointing for the group when it was announced this morning.”

Payne’s bruised left foot swelled up after training on Wednesday and a subsequent scan revealed the fracture yesterday evening. His Ulster and Ireland team-mate Tommy Bowe admitted it was ‘a pretty big blow’ to the squad.

“We all felt that from chatting to him that he felt very positive about it (the injury). But he went for a scan yesterday and I think that was the final nail in the coffin unfortunately,” explained the Monaghan man.

“It was a bit of a shock to everybody when we heard this morning and disappointed. Listen, we’re gutted for him. It’s your worst fear.

“You put in so much effort, so much training and to get to this stage where these are the real big matches coming up, to miss out on that is disappointing for him.”

Although acknowledging Payne’s impact both on and off the field at his first Rugby World Cup tournament, Bowe said the players have to move on quickly as the countdown continues to tomorrow’s crunch clash with the French.

“Jared’s a very popular man around the squad. He’s been one of our most consistent players over the last couple of years. He’s been playing some outstanding rugby,” he added.

“Of course losing a player like that is going to be a massive blow to any squad. It’s disappointing news for us but we know that it’s the nature of the competition and there are always going to be injuries. We’ve been very fortunate in only losing one player compared to some teams out there.

“We’re all very disappointed that his World Cup is over, but we need to focus on the match tomorrow and move on. We know we have plenty of strength and depth in the squad that can fill in those positions.”