long-term absence

Post-training headaches still keeping Jared Payne out of rugby

‘What we are doing is trying to make sure the welfare of Jared is foremost.’

ULSTER AND IRELAND back Jared Payne is still without a definitive timeline for a first rugby outing since June as he continues to suffer from headaches.

The fullback and centre last played on 20 June when he was part of the British and Irish Lions’ win over his former club the Waikato Chiefs.

Payne was due to feature in the Lions’ final midweek match against the Hurricanes but was pulled out before kick-off having reported with a headache.

Jared Payne with Dr Eanna Falvey Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

The issue has persisted since his return to Ulster this season, with heavy training loads exacerbating the issue, says director of rugby Les Kiss.

“Jared is just a day-by-day, week-by-week, and once Jared gets to a point where he has no response to hard training… he trains hard and he still has slight bits of responses from that neck and headaches, but he’s coming along, we just have to keep an eye on it. It could be two weeks, it could be four.”

Asked for further clarification on whether the injury was concussion-related by BBC Sport, Kiss said:

“(It’s) been ruled that it’s not a concussive episode, it’s another episode with the neck and the head and he’s just getting headaches after hard work.”

The 32-year-old has been through consultations with medics attached to both Ulster and the IRFU in an effort to find a way to manage and recover from the persistent headaches. Kiss, however, is in no rush to call Payne back to action any earlier than it is safe to do so.

“What we are doing is trying to make sure the welfare of Jared is foremost. The doctors, the specialists from down south and up here are doing what they can to make sure we get the right procedures in place for him.”

Jared Payne Payne played at fullback for Ireland's Six Nations win over England in March. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Despite a torrid year of injuries that began with a serious kidney injury last November, Kiss says Payne remains upbeat through his latest long-term and doubly concerning injury.

“It’s frustrating for him no doubt but he’s being positive, immense in how he’s adding to the training sessions and meetings and all of those things.

“It’s not like he’s in the corner – he’s very, very active and he is desperate to get it right and I’d be very optimistic to tell you the truth. We’re just doing it the right way.

“It’s clearly unclear.”

- Additional reporting by Adam McKendry

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