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Payne demands perfection during Ulster's testing run in


By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster's Jared Payne is calling on the side to finish their PRO12 season with a perfect ten. The province have won six games in a row as they look to secure their place in the end-of-season play-offs, but the Irish international believes Les Kiss's men must extend that run to double digits if they are to be sure of maintaining their hold on fourth place.

"We probably need all of them," he said of the remaining four games that begin with Cardiff's visit tomorrow night (7.35pm kick-off).

"I haven't looked at the table to tell you the truth but it's pretty much win them all or we're out.

"Every week that you prepare to play, you prepare to win so we just have to front up."

The versatile back is still searching for peak match fitness after spending three months out of the game with a kidney problem sustained in November.

Having made an impressive return to the international scene against England last month, he admitted the quick restoration to a green jersey came as a surprise.

"It was a bit of a bonus to be honest, although I wouldn't have said that when I was blowing a few times. The legs went a bit during it but it was great to be out there having fun.

"I came back earlier than I thought and a few things have been tweaked here and there.

"I have been training once a week for the last five weeks but I'm over that and the body is starting to feel half decent.

"The rugby is OK but I'm not as sharp as I should be."

One thing the injury did afford the 31-year-old was a first trip home to New Zealand in three years.

He does not, however, believe he'll be praying for a quick return over the next fortnight, with Warren Gatland's Lions squad for the summer tour to his homeland named on April 19.

"Some boys have aspirations and hopefully that drives them to perform better but I'm nowhere near," he said.

"There are plenty of quality players around and I've just to get back playing rugby."

Belfast Telegraph


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