Payne faces race to be fit for Italy clash

With Italy next up at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday, Cave has suggested that the Ireland squad have more to offer despite claiming all 10 points available to them in Pool D so far.


Ireland scrum coach Greg Feek said that it would be a matter of waiting to see how the players reacted over the next 24 hours.

Simon Zebo has rejoined the Ireland camp after returning home for his grandfather’s funeral, and he could slot in for Kearney at full-back if required.

“So Rob ran around and a few guys looked pretty good so fingers crossed for the rest of the week”.

Ireland and Ulster centre Darren Cave has defended Jared Payne from the criticism received by his teammate after Ireland’s victory over Romania. We’ll see how he goes over the rest of the week and then maybe…

“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”.

“Yeah, we’re not stupid in terms of not looking and that’s our job to be able to do that”.

Earls featured at 13 in Ireland’s 35-21 World Cup warm-up victory over Wales in Cardiff.

Meanwhile Michele Rizzo said the Italian front row are bracing themselves for a hard afternoon’s work on Sunday, whether it’s Leinster’s Cian Healy or Jack McGrath who get the nod to start at loosehead.

The pool winners will likely face a tough Argentina side in the quarter-finals, while the runners-up would probably have an even more daunting last-eight assignment against defending champions New Zealand.

“I think the best team to beat Italy has to take the field, yes”, said Feek.

“Nonetheless it is an important match but we can’t ignore the match against Romania after it, because both they and Canada have shown that they can cause teams problems”.

“That’s not saying the team that plays this week will play next week”.

“They have a good run until now and playing us is one of their big steps if they want to reach the quarter-finals, but I am concentrating on what we do”.

“That competition between Cian and Jack, that’s always been there”.

“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 it’s exciting to have those two going hammer and tongs at each other”.

Ireland's Mike Ross does some warm-up exercises with team physio James Allen during training in Guildford BRENDAN MORAN  SPORTSFILE