Tuesday 19 March 2019

Payne is back in game

NEW ROLE: Former Ireland back Jared Payne. Photo: Sportsfile
NEW ROLE: Former Ireland back Jared Payne. Photo: Sportsfile

Jared Payne has softened the hard fall of retirement with the cushion of coaching.

The former Ulster and Ireland multi-position back has not been able to recover from concussion issues over the stretch of the last season.

"While I will undoubtedly miss the buzz of running out with mates every weekend, I have to listen to the medical advice and unfortunately give up the dream," he said in a statement yesterday.

However, the 32-year-old will move straight into a position as Ulster defence coach.

This has been further enhanced by coach Joe Schmidt's invitation to fast-track his coaching knowledge by accompanying Ireland on the tour to Australia over the coming weeks.

The Ireland 32-man squad will be dominated by 17 Leinster men who will leave the country on a high after sealing an unprecedented double at the Aviva.

Leinster hooker Sean Cronin will look to take his fine form from the second-half of the season to Australia.


The Limerickman, dropped earlier in the season, is eager to continue his climb back to the forefront of Schmidt's plan. He has used November as fuel to fire-up his ambition.

"You have to take the lows," he stated. "You've got to look at how you can bounce back from that and try and work your socks off and get back in contention.

"That's all I did. I saw what Leo (Cullen) and Stuart (Lancaster) wanted from me here (at Leinster), to get up to speed, and they've had a bit of faith in me.

"That's all you can do, try and work your socks off if you're left out of a squad. Don't sulk, work as hard as you can and believe in yourself."

It was just five months ago when Best, Herring and Leinster's James Tracy had moved ahead of the veteran.

There was the additional kick that Munster's Niall Scannell would probably have been included ahead of him were it not for injury.

Cronin had conceivably fallen from second choice hooker to fifth in the blink of an eye.

That is the savage nature of the game, where you are only as good as your last match. Since then, he has played a central role in Leinster's drive to glory on two fronts.

"Yeah, it's very exciting. I'm looking forward to getting back in," he claimed.

"It's a tremendous group of guys working under Joe and he'll have us back down to earth when we get together on Wednesday."

The transition from Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster to Schmidt is a familiar one to Cronin.

"Joe has his own way of doing stuff as well,," he said. "We'll have to get up to speed with that and put this to bed pretty quick.

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