All eyes on Best and Henderson with Payne out of Tour opener
Ulster said goodbye to two of their most loyal servants of the professional era as Ruan Pienaar and Roger Wilson signed off at Kingspan Stadium in a 43-28 defeat to the visiting Barbarians last night.
A second send-off for the pair after their emotional farewell in the final game of the season against Leinster last month, both men enjoyed the occasion despite the result, with Wilson even stepping up to convert one of Ulster’s four tries on the night.
The star-studded Baa-Baas weren’t able to play their traditional brand of rugby on a rainswept night, but still put on an entertaining display in a final game in the impressive careers of France’s Thierry Dusautoir and Ireland’s Mike Ross.
The big number 8 is set to step away from the game at 35 years of age, while Pienaar will move to Montpellier where he will work with the man who coached last night’s opposition to their seven-try victory, Vern Cotter.
Out in New Zealand, there was bad news for one of Ulster’s three British and Irish Lions as Jared Payne is out of the tour’s first game with a calf injury.
His Ulster team-mates Rory Best and Iain Henderson will start against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians on Saturday morning (8.35am kick-off) but Payne’s place on the bench has been taken by England and Wasps back Elliot Daly.
End game: Roger Wilson and Ruan Pienaar bow at Kingspan last night MATT MACKEY