Rugby World Cup 2015: Cave defends Payne's Ireland displays

Darren Cave and Jared Payne in action for Ireland against Romania on Sunday
Darren Cave believes that unfair criticism has been levelled at his fellow Ulster centre Jared Payne
Rugby World Cup: Ireland v Italy
Venue: Olympic Stadium, London Date: Sunday, 4 October Kick-off: 16:45 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Ulster, plus live coverage on the BBC Sport website.

Darren Cave has strongly defended the World Cup displays of fellow Ireland centre Jared Payne following criticism from ex-Scotland coach Matt Williams.

TV pundit Williams claimed that Payne made "really poor decisions" and kicked too much in Sunday's 44-10 World Cup Pool D win over Romania at Wembley.

Cave, 28, said that he would have been "pretty annoyed" by such criticism.

"It can be frustrating when guys are just throwing out opinions which aren't based on facts," said Cave on Tuesday.

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"Suddenly that becomes everyone else's opinion - the 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."

Cave was Payne's centre partner in Sunday's game at Wembley after the the New Zealand native lined up in midfield alongside Luke Fitzgerald in Ireland's opening World Cup win over Canada.

"I actually thought the Canada game was potentially Jared's best game in green."

Cave was surprised by former Ulster coach Williams's complaints about Payne's kicking in Sunday's game at Wembley.

Matt Williams
Former Scotland, Ulster and Leinster coach Matt Williams said that Jared Payne kicked too much against Romania

Williams's criticism of Payne, 29, followed comments from ex-All Blacks star Justin Marshall last week which described the Kiwi native as a "makeshift centre".

Prior to his move to centre by Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, Payne played the majority of his rugby at full-back.

"It's just opinion at the end of the day, it's not really based on fact," added Cave.

"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.

"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."

Williams made his comments about Payne in his pundit's role for Irish channel TV3.

In a tweet on Tuesday, former Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris vehemently disagreed with Williams's comments on the Ireland midfield.

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