Jared Payne has yet to play a competitive game of rugby since he lined out for the British and Irish Lions in their clash against the Chiefs at the end of June – the last warm-up game before the Lions faced the All Blacks in the first Test.
Payne suffered from migraine and as a result, he was stood down from the Tour. Since then those symptoms have remained, with Payne still having headaches. The 32-year-old has been cleared of concussion, but the inability to get to the bottom of the issue has seen the player not play a game of rugby in eight months.
He has seriously been missed by the northern province this season, with his leadership and defensive nuance traits which Ulster have badly needed.
His contract is up at the end of the season and his playing future remains unclear but the club has announced that Payne will help out with coaching duties in the new-look coaching set-up which has been established due to Les Kiss’ departure.
Payne will help out coaching the defence with Jono Gibbes and Dwayne Peel as confirmed by Ulster in a statement yesterday.
“Obviously coaches at that level, particularly Jono’s level, will have been competent at defence over a period of time. He will have his own views on what needs done there. Dwayne, from a back’s perspective, will be very au fait with set piece defence,” Ulster Rugby Operations Director Bryn Cunningham said.
“Jared Payne is also in there helping out at the moment. He is still injured at present and unavailable to play, but he has got a fantastic rugby brain. He is one of the smartest players in modern-day rugby. I know Joe Schmidt holds him in incredibly high regard in relation to how he operates and how he runs that backline.”
It’s great to see Payne involved in some capacity and hopefully, he can improve Ulster’s defensive efforts ahead of their clash with the Southern Kings this weekend, in addition to getting back on the pitch in a playing capacity.