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Payne ruled out of Australia Test

Jared Payne will miss Ireland's Test clash with Australia in Dublin on Saturday after failing to recover from his foot sprain, team bosses have confirmed.

The Ulster centre's absence paves the way for boss Joe Schmidt to pair Gordon D'Arcy and Robbie Henshaw to face the Wallabies.

Former New Zealand Under-21 star Payne made his Test debut in Ireland's 29-15 victory over South Africa, but hobbled off and was ruled out of action for last weekend's Georgia clash.

The 29-year-old was unable to battle back to training on Tuesday, and will now miss Ireland's final autumn contest, with Schmidt's men chasing a clean November series sweep.

After Ireland chiefs confirmed Payne's absence this weekend, forwards coach Simon Easterby said Ireland value performance levels over a potential seventh consecutive victory.

"I think the performance is first and foremost," said Easterby.

"You get the performance right, then you get your processes right, and you get results out of the back of that.

"Is it important to us to get a clean sweep? Not really.

"Is it important to us to keep improving and keep getting better as a team and players? Yes, and that's first and foremost.

"Continual improvement is the most important thing."

Number eight Jamie Heaslip wished flanker Chris Henry a swift and full recovery from the "temporary blockage of a small blood vessel in his brain" suffered on the morning of the South Africa match.

Medics initially thought Ulster flanker Henry was suffering a virus, before diagnosing a severe migraine.

The 30-year-old was later discovered to have suffered a brain injury though, and now he is recuperating at home.

Leinster back-rower Heaslip admitted Ireland will be weaker in Henry's absence, but said his full recovery is the obvious clear concern.

"He's a big loss for us, he's a great player," said Heaslip.

"I don't want to talk too much on his situation as it would be unfair of me and it's a private matter.

"But that said, all the players are thinking of him obviously and he's got the best guys looking after him now.

"He's a nightmare to play against: like every good seven he's got that ability in the dark arts to get in there and mess ball up.

"He's a great player with a serious work-rate, he gets through a lot of work that he doesn't get enough credit for."

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