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Ex-Ireland midfielder Jared Payne hands in his notice at Ulster

By Liam Heagney

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Former Ireland midfielder Jared Payne has handed in his notice to quit Ulster at the end of the season and pursue coaching opportunities elsewhere. The New Zealander made a 2011 debut at the Irish province, going on to excel at full-back before breaking into the Irish set-up under the three-year residency rule.

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He played 20 times for Ireland, becoming a midfield favourite of Joe Schmidt, and he toured New Zealand with the 2017 Lions. However, it was on that trip where issues with migraines materialised and it ultimately led to his retirement as a player in 2018. 

Payne’s affiliation with Ulster didn’t end there, though, as he switched into coaching where he is now defence coach under Dan McFarland, who took over four years ago from Jono Gibbes.  

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An Ulster statement read: “Jared Payne will leave the club at the end of the season. He will depart the club in the summer after a decade of service to the province to pursue coaching opportunities overseas.”

Payne added: “A big thank-you to the Ulster community, the fans, players and staff that have made my time here special. I will forever be grateful for the opportunities and experiences that we have shared and I look forward to hopefully adding to those over these final few months.”

McFarland said: “We all know how much Jared has given to Ulster as a player and as an important part of our coaching set-up since 2018. Jared has helped to shape who we are as a club over the past decade and what we want to achieve. His influence will continue to be felt in the years ahead. Jared’s desire to learn and improve himself as a coach has been impressive and it has been this spirit, in particular, that has made him a core part of our culture.

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“On behalf of myself, the support staff, and the wider club, I would like to thank Jared for his significant contribution to Ulster, and he leaves with our best wishes for this next chapter.”

Switching to Ulster’s upcoming Champions Cup game at Northampton this Sunday, scrum-half John Cooney sustained a calf injury in last weekend’s United Rugby Championship loss at Munster and is unavailable for the game at Franklin’s Gardens.  

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