I'm relieved nightmare is over and I can get on with life: Payne
Former Ulster, Ireland and Lions centre Jared Payne has opened up on the nightmare he suffered during an injury-plagued 2017/18 season that forced his retirement.
The 32-year-old sustained a head knock during the Lions' win over the Chiefs on their tour of New Zealand last summer, causing headaches that sidelined him for the entire season.
The after-effects of the injury eventually forced his retirement at the end of the season, and now Payne has become Ulster's defence coach.
But in his first interview since announcing he was quitting the game, Payne has revealed the anguish he had to deal with.
"I felt pretty bad in general," the New Zealander admitted with a grimace.
"Sometimes you felt like you had a bit of a hangover and other times it feels like something's wrong in your head and you're tempted to call A&E because the headaches are so bad."
It was a sad end to an excellent career. Last season it was always believed that Payne would return but the persistent headaches kept him sidelined. The Tauranga native is now just happy to still be involved.
"It was frustrating, it wasn't a nice place to be in with the headaches and feeling pretty awful at times. It's part of sport nowadays unfortunately. Sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don't," he said.
"It was challenging and it was frustrating but I'm glad to be out the other side and improving a little bit day by day and living a pretty normal life."
And Payne was quick to thank the medics at the club for the work they did with him, most importantly ensuring he didn't cause any further damage to his health.
"The medical team were really good, we tried all sorts of stuff but it was a strange one, I've never had issues with it, I just never came quite right," he said.
"Now I feel pretty good. We called it a day and that was that."