Belfast Telegraph

Gatland plays down Payne's injury fears

 

By Jonathan Bradley

British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland has allayed fears that Jared Payne's tour could be in jeopardy after another injury scare.

The Kiwi-born Ulsterman has played next to no rugby in recent weeks, and limped out of his Lions debut on Wednesday with what looked like a recurrence of the calf problem that saw him withdrawn from the tour opener.

Gatland, however, said he was pleased with the 31-year-old's first outing in New Zealand and confirmed that the problem was actually with the centre's other leg.

"Jared Payne has probably the skinniest calves in world rugby," Gatland joked. "It was his good calf that tightened up.

"It was good to get him on the field. He was rusty but showed a couple of nice touches."

With Payne out, and both Iain Henderson and Rory Best not involved, there will be no Ulstermen in the Lions team which faces Crusaders in Christchurch tomorrow (8.35am kick-off).

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