“Jared Payne has a bruised foot and hasn’t trained all week”, said Kearney.
Television analyst and former Ulster head coach Matt Williams was highly critical of Payne’s performance in Ireland’s 44-10 win but Cave, who started in midfield alongside his fellow Ulster teammate, thinks such criticism is unwarranted.
“Then after a week it’s the perception of half the nation and it’s just completely false”.
When fit, Joe Schmidt has selected the 29 year old in every major Test since his debut against South Africa last November, but may now have to consider playing Luke Fitzgerald, Keith Earls or Darren Cave at outside centre against the Azzurri in their third Pool D match.
“So Tommy brought it up but it’s not something that consumes us”.
“I think, as a squad, the players would be very confident in Jared’s ability”.
“And if that goes well we will see how he gets on in training and then we will have another check to see if he can play”. “So we will deal with facts not opinions”, the 28-year-old told reporters.
“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”.
Kearney suffered a bang to his hip and the minor muscle tear in his buttock in scoring nearly straight after coming off the bench in Ireland’s landslide victory over Romania at Wembley on Sunday.
Feek has admitted Ireland must select from strength against Italy, where victory will secure their place in the quarter-finals.
Fitness permitting Earls ought to hit his prime at this World Cup, but his longevity already affords him senior status in Schmidt’s squad.
“He has a bit of a bruise so we’ll see how he goes”.
“Robbie has come through training really, really powerfully this week so there are no issues with Robbie and he’s available for selection, he’s good to go”, said team manager Mick Kearney.
“Rob ran around and a few guys looked pretty good so fingers crossed for the rest of the week”, said Ireland scrum coach Greg Feek.