Ireland has been boosted by the return of Ulster centre Jared Payne this week but it appears he could be set to warm the bench when joe Schmidt’s side takes on Wales in Cardiff on Friday.
Payne only recently returned for Ulster, having been out since the November test series with a damaged kidney. his return against Treviso on Friday last saw Ireland boss Joe Schmidt add the New Zealand born centre to his squad.
Reported by The42.ie, Payne sat out training on Monday with bruising but according to Ireland forwards coach Simon Easterby, it was not related to the kidney injury that saw him miss the first three rounds of the Six Nations.
“He felt pretty good on the weekend. Pretty sharp.
“But he has been a long time out of the game and so 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.
“For Jared it is great to have him back around and hopefully we will see him train on Wednesday and then we will take it from there.”
With Leinster rising star Garry Ringrose shining in the No.13 jersey, it seems that Schmidt is now leaning towards keeping faith with the 22-year-old, ahead of the far more experienced Payne.
“We can all say how impressed we have been with Garry.
“He is a young man in years but he certainly looks like he is playing beyond those years in terms of his understanding of the game, his awareness.
“He is an intelligent rugby player, he sees things that a lot of players can’t see and guys who have been around a lot longer than him. We’ve known for a long time, as have all of you, that he is something special and he hasn’t done too much wrong.”
Such has been the incredible start to his international career thus far that comparisons have been made between Ringrose and a certain Brian O’Driscoll, who occupied the same jersey for nearly 15 years before retiring in 2014.
Ireland will need the young Leinster man to be at his best once again on Friday as they will face a wounded Wales at the Principality Stadium where, at the best of times, the atmosphere is always daunting.
Kick off on Friday in Cardiff is at 8:05pm.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena
On this week’s Oval Office Podcast, Jacques Burger talks about his battle with depression, Benetton Treviso’s Ian McKinley reviews Italy’s performance against England and Daniel Killick of The Attacking Scrum tells us what’s gone wrong with Wales.