Rugby World Cup: Manner of Joe Schmidt and Rory Best's Ireland exit 'pretty mean'
Jared Payne says Joe Schmidt and Rory Best did not get the send-off from Irish rugby that they deserved.
Former Ireland head coach Schmidt and departing captain Best signed off with a huge defeat by the All Blacks in Saturday's World Cup quarter-final.
Payne, who played and worked under Kiwi Schmidt as well as playing with Best for Ulster and Ireland, admitted the manner of their exit was "pretty mean".
"It's disappointing for them both to go out like that," said Payne.
Ireland had enjoyed two wins in their last three games against New Zealand since 2016, but were comprehensively beaten by the defending World Cup champions in Tokyo.
Despite the manner of the defeat, which was the last of a number of very poor performance by Ireland this year, Payne believes it should not tarnish the legacy of two outstanding individuals who gave so much to Irish rugby.
"What Joe has done with the Irish camp, the way he's turned rugby round down there, is incredible," Payne claimed.
"As for Rory, the type of leader, the type of character he is, the way he fronts up every weekend is pretty awesome. He is a special person with both Ulster and Ireland and I've enjoyed my time under him.
"Sport is a bit of a - call it something pretty mean that you can't really call it - but sport is not the nicest thing at times. It's disappointing for Joe and Rory to go out on that sort of performance.
"Unfortunately they didn't get the kind of send-off they deserved but I think they can hold their heads high."
Former New Zealand U21 back Payne formed a close relationship with Schmidt, under whom he earned 20 Ireland caps after leaving the Auckland Blues and moving to Belfast in 2011.
He was invited to work under Schmidt during last year's winning summer tour of Australia after retiring from rugby in 2018 and now works as defence coach at Ulster.
The 34-year-old could not fail to be impressed the country of his birth and described them as "clinical".
"Ireland missed a few opportunities and then the All Blacks didn't really let them get back into the game.
"If you don't front up against the best team in the world and you can't get yourself into the game it's going to be a long night at the office.
"That's sport. Sometimes you can have a great week, prepare tick all the boxes and turn up and sometimes a team knocks you over early and you can't get back off the canvas. You've got to say 'fair play' to the All Blacks."