Garry Ringrose's humble remarks about Jared Payne are on the money
You don't know what you got 'til it's gone.
At half-time in Ireland's 29-24 victory over Australia, last November, Jared Payne was passing blood. He wanted to play on but the Ireland team medics withdrew him from the fray.
He had been a doubt all week with a badly bruised leg - damaged by the hulking figure of New Zealand lock Sam Whitelock - but he knew Ireland were short of midfield options. Against the Aussies, he took a serious blow to the ribs and it wrecked his kidneys. Post-match, Joe Schmidt told us:
"He got a pretty decent whack in the ribs at one stage, which is a totally new injury, but it didn't really help his sense of well-being."
Master of understatement, is Schmidt.
Payne is still out of playing action although he has made a training return up at Ulster. His defensive leadership and attacking nous, so evident last year [see below], has been missed in the opening two Six Nations games.
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) November 8, 2016
Garry Ringrose will start his third consecutive Ireland game in the 13 jersey, this weekend. He concedes that Ireland do miss Payne but he will be hoping we are not talking about the Kiwi after the visit of France. He says:
"If I could be half the player he is I'd be over the moon. With him being injured I've just to try to best fill his shoes with the opportunity I've been given."
Not a many of many words on media appearances, Ringrose tells us Payne is all talk during training drills and in matches.
"Jared is incredible defensively. I've learned as much as I could off him training with him and watching him on TV. To describe him as the defensive captain is very true.
"I don't know whether there's a specific captain now, I think collectively we all have to buy in and not one person is defending on their own. We're better collectively, so I don't think there's a player I could single out [as captain]."
With the likes of Gael Fickou, Remi Lamerat and France No.8 Louis Picamoles gunning for the Irish defence on Saturday, the collective will be hard pressed to show they can cope without the soft-spoken Kiwi that usually calls the shots.