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Ireland set to keep Payne on ice

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6/03/2017 By Nick Purewal
Kiwi-born Irish player Jared Payne © PA Kiwi-born Irish player Jared Payne

Injured New Zealand back Jared Payne is likely to remain sidelined from Ireland's Six Nations campaign for another week.

Payne probably won't feature in Ireland's crucial clash in Wales on Friday after missing training on Monday.

Ulster centre Payne has made an unlikely return to the Ireland squad for the Six Nations' final two rounds, after fighting back from long-term kidney damage suffered against Australia in November.

The 31-year-old, who played for three New Zealand Super Rugby teams up until 2011, made a successful comeback in Ulster's 19-7 win over Treviso on Friday night, but missed Ireland's session on Monday owing to new bruising.

Forwards coach Simon Easterby insisted Ireland have been impressed with Leinster's Garry Ringrose, who is now expected to retain his place at outside centre.

"We have been pretty comfortable with what we have picked so far and we're happy with the guys who have been playing in those positions," Easterby said.

"Jared has bruising, it's nothing worse than that. He has been out for a long time and some players will take a little bit more to recover from games, especially when they have been out for so long."

Payne has operated as Ireland's backline defensive coordinator under coach Joe Schmidt, but suffered a nasty kidney problem in the 27-24 win over Australia in the autumn.

The New Zealand-born midfielder had initially been expected to miss the entire Six Nations, but has fought back into Ireland's squad ahead of the closing two rounds.

Ireland must win in Wales to keep their trophy chances alive, and a victory would most likely tee up a title decider against England in Dublin on March 18.

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