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No return date in sight as Ulster deregister Jared Payne from Champions Cup squad

The Ireland international has been replaced by Johnny McPhillips.

Payne last played on 20 June.
Payne last played on 20 June.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

ULSTER HAVE DEREGISTERED Jared Payne — who has not played since his Lions tour was curtailed with migraines – from their Champions Cup squad for this weekend’s round five clash with La Rochelle.

The Ireland international continues to suffer from post-training headaches and although Payne has consulted with medics attached to both Ulster and the IRFU, there is still uncertainty over when — or if — he’ll be fit to return.

Les Kiss has said Ulster are managing Payne on a ‘week-to-week’ basis and consistently reiterated that a ‘wise decision’ will need to be made as to when the fullback/centre is made available for selection again.

But as concern over Payne’s health grows, Ulster have replaced the 32-year-old in their squad for Saturday’s do-or-die pool clash against La Rochelle with young out-half Johnny McPhillips.

The 20-year-old made his senior debut as a second-half replacement during Ulster’s heavy Pro14 defeat to Connacht before Christmas, and then impressed during a brief cameo against Leinster last weekend.

After their back-to-back wins over Harlequins in December, the northern province head into the final two pool rounds needing wins over La Rochelle and Wasps to boost their chances of qualification from Pool 1.

As it stands, Ulster trail Saturday’s opponents by two points, while Wasps are a further three points behind in third place.

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