THE IRFU HAS confirmed that Jared Payne will not be involved for Ireland against Australia on Saturday.
The 29-year-old has returned to Ulster to recover from the sprained foot he sustained in the 29-15 victory against South Africa.
Payne pictured last week. Schmidt had hoped to rush the Ulster man back to fitness. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
Payne took part in a running session with Ireland’s medical staff yesterday evening, but his foot was “tender” immediately after. As a result, the decision has been made to rule the New Zealand native out of the clash with Michael Cheika’s Wallabies.
It is not expected that Payne will be sidelined for the long-term.
Having worn 13 against South Africa, Payne’s absence opens the door for Robbie Henshaw to move to the outside centre berth this weekend. Gordon D’Arcy, Stuart Olding and Ian Madigan are all viable options at 12 for head coach Joe Schmidt.
Versatile Ulster back Olding was put forward for media duty today by the IRFU, usually a hint of involvement, although that may come from the bench. Madigan was excellent at out-half against Georgia on Sunday, while D’Arcy offers tried and test defence in midfield.
Meanwhile, Mike McCarthy has returned to Leinster to undergo his return-to-play protocols after suffering concussion against Georgia, and has also been ruled out of involvement this weekend. That leaves Dave Foley almost certain to be part of Ireland’s replacements bench.
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Rory Best came through training today and is available for selection against the Wallabies. Richardt Strauss was strong at hooker against Georgia, and against South Africa off the bench, while Sean Cronin started that clash with the Springboks.
Best got through a full training session earlier today. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
Making a call in the number two shirt is a welcome selection dilemma for Ireland’s coaching, even if Best’s experience gives him a strong chance of returning.
“He trained today and trained well,” says Ireland forwards coach Simon Easterby.
“It’s a good place to be. Rory has proved his fitness today and took part in full training, which was great. It’s great to have a bit of quality and depth in that position.”
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