Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has revealed that fit again Jared Payne could be in line for a call up to the Ireland squad ahead of the crucial Six Nations clash with Wales on March 10th.
The New Zealand born Ulster man has been sidelined with a kidney issue since the November test series and has only played once since then, a Pro 12 clash with Zebre last weekend.
Having come through that bonus point victory in Parma, the versatile back has once again become an option for Schmidt and according to BBC Sport, the coach has added a number of players to the mix for consideration.
“Jared is probably one of them.
“There are a few other guys in contention as well, the likes of Dave Kilcoyne, who is working away pretty hard, and Denis Buckley is working hard.”
With Rob Kearney now nursing a groin injury, Payne could offer Schmidt increased options at the back. With Simon Zebo more than capable of switching from the wing to full-back, should Kearney be ruled out of the Friday night clash with Wales, Payne could be called up to the bench ahead of Tiernan O’Halloran.
Payne also offers additional options at centre and he could be utilised as cover for Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose if needed.
The return to fitness of the 31-year-old gives Schmidt the best kind of headache; how and where to utilise a world class back in a side where nobody in the back line deserves to cede their starting place.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena
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