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Jared Payne ruled out of Ulster's European opener

 

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster will again be without Jared Payne when their Champions Cup campaign kicks off against Wasps at Kingspan Stadium on Friday night (7.45pm).

The Irish international centre has not played since returning early from the British and Irish Lions tour all the way back in June due to cervicogenic headaches.

Back in training for a number of weeks, and named in the province's extended Champions Cup squad submitted last week, he has still not been cleared to rejoin the matchday squad however, with assistant coach Dwayne Peel confirming yesterday the 31-year-old would play no part this weekend.

Marcell Coetzee, Rory Best, Craig Gilroy, Schalk van der Merwe and Nick Timoney are also missing out for the hosts, but the English visitors have a long injury list of their own to contend with ahead of the European curtain-raiser.

"I think it is obviously a big game for us," said Peel.

"Wasps were Premiership finalists last year and we know they are a quality side and it will be a big challenge for us," Peel added.

Harlequins and La Rochelle complete the pool.

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