Ireland have their Six Nations campaign well and truly back on track after wins over Italy and France. Joe Schmidt’s side fell to Scotland in their opening game, but have now clawed it back, and are still in with a fighting chance of winning the championship.
Schmidt has been blessed with a lack of injuries up to this point, and Jonathan Sexton’s return last week came as a major boost.
Jared Payne now returns to the side to give the Kiwi coach a welcome selection headache.
Payne is recognised as a full-back, but has featured in the midfield more frequently for Ireland. With Rob Kearney carrying a knock, Payne coming in at fullback could be a seamless swap.
However, Payne featured this evening for Ulster in the midfield against Treviso, which is unusual for the northern province. This suggests that he will be playing in the centre for Ireland in the coming weeks.
As reported by the Irish Independent, this is a strong indication that Schmidt will revert back to his favoured centre partnership of Payne and Henshaw for the crunch games against Wales and England.
This could mean that the all-Leinster partnership of Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw could be broken up to make way for Payne.
Ringrose has impressed thus far in the championship, and many will feel that dropping him would be a harsh call.
Make sure to tune into the latest episode of the Oval Office podcast, where we review the last round of the Six Nations.