RUGBY: Ulster ace Payne to miss Lions opener

Ulster and Ireland's Jared Payne
Ulster and Ireland's Jared Payne

Jared Payne has been ruled out of the British and Irish Lions’ opening tour match against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians due to a calf strain.

The Kiwi-born Ulster and Ireland centre will now have to wait a while longer for his Lions debut in the land of his birth, with England’s Elliot Daly taking a seat on the bench.

Wasps flyer Daly will also make his Lions debut if he joins the fray in tomorrow’s clash in Whangarei.

Ulster’s versatile backline operator Payne represented New Zealand Under-20s before moving to Ireland and qualifying on residency.

The 31-year-old has become an integral cog in Joe Schmidt’s Ireland backline, providing a calming influence and captaining the defence.

The former Chiefs and Crusaders star missed the majority of the second half of the domestic season after suffering a lacerated kidney in Ireland’s autumn international victory over Australia.

And he will be gutted to miss his chance to show what he has to offer, if he had got off the bench in tomorrow’s match.

Daly has emerged as a favourite of England head coach Eddie Jones this term, and also impressed as Wasps drove all the way to the Aviva Premiership final.Just like Payne, Daly can cover wing and full-back as well as centre, so his move onto the bench changes little.

Payne’s challenge now will be to shake off an injury for which the severity is not yet known, in time to make full impact on the Lions’ 10-match tour.