Watch: Five of Jared Payne's best moments as Ulster and Ireland star retires
Jared Payne has taken to a rugby pitch for the final time after announcing his retirement on Monday morning.
He will stay with Ulster as a defence coach but as his playing career comes to an end, here's a look back at five of his greatest moments:
1. Making his mark at last
Ulster v Munster, RaboDirect Pro12 (14/09/2012): Having missed virtually all of his first season in Belfast with a ruptured Achilles, Payne’s first try in an Ulster jersey was finishing off a fine team move as part of a man-of-the-match display in a pulsating derby with Munster at Ravenhill that was edged by the hosts 20-19 after a huge defensive stand.
2. A saintly Euro showing
Northampton v Ulster, Heineken Cup (07/12/2012): With Payne taking to northern hemisphere rugby like a duck to water, he was again to the fore as Ulster won their 13th game in a row to start the campaign. While they would lose the return a week later, the win in Franklin’s Gardens was a real statement.
3. Answering Ireland’s call
Scotland v Ireland, Six Nations (21/03/2015): Despite much debate over his best position, Payne was parachuted straight into Joe Schmidt’s midfield as soon as he became Irish qualified in November of 2014. While Schmidt loved his defensive ability, his first try in green was crucial, helping land a Six Nations title on ‘Super Saturday.’
4. Helping polish off Kiwis
Ireland v New Zealand, Guinness Series (05/11/2016): Ireland had waited 111 years to beat the All Blacks but Payne managed it on his very first go. Against the country of his birth, it was Payne who started the move that brought the game-sealing late score.
5. A dose of the Blues
British and Irish Lions v Auckland Blues, Lions Tour (07/06/2017): It had been six years since Payne left New Zealand for Ulster when he was called into the Lions squad for last summer’s series. Having battled with a calf injury in the early stages of the trip, he took his place in Warren Gatland’s side for the first time against his former club. It was closer to the end of his career than anyone knew.
Belfast Telegraph Digital