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Injured Jared Payne eases into coaching

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    09 Feb 2018     Getty Images

Invalided out of the Lions tour of New Zealand last year with concussion Payne has been unable to return to playing due to persistent migraines. Any time he has attempted to come back has resulted in migraine relapses after training, especially when heavy workloads have been involved.

With the departure of Les Kiss from the Ulster coaching structure, Payne, who has 20 Ireland caps, has been given coaching roles alongside head coach and fellow New Zealander Jono Gibbes and assistant coach Dwayne Peel.

Ulster team manager Bryn Cunningham said in a statement: "He [Payne] is still injured at present and unavailable to play, but he has got a fantastic rugby brain. He is one of the smartest players in modern day rugby.

"I know [Ireland coach] Joe Schmidt holds him in incredibly high regard in relation to how he operates and how he runs that backline," he said.

Schmidt told the42.ie, "Jared might not be finished playing the game yet.

"I've had discussions with Jared, they're ongoing, and we'll continue to have those discussions. He's in great shape so I wouldn't rule him out.

"He's got a real understanding of the game so to have him involved in coaching [at Ulster] and to have that experience that he brought to our team, I think you only have to ask the players how comfortable he made other players feel because he understood the game.

"That's got to be good," Schmidt said.