Ireland centre Jared Payne risks missing Six Nations
Jared Payne could miss the RBS 6 Nations after suffering a kidney injury in Ireland's 27-24 win over Australia.
Ulster centre Payne has been ruled out "for at least three months", according to a statement from the Irish Rugby Football Union.
The 31-year-old has a slim chance of finding fitness for Ireland's final two Six Nations clashes, in Wales on March 10 and against England in Dublin eight days later.
"Jared Payne suffered a kidney injury in the first half of the Australia match," read the IRFU statement.
"He is expected to be out of the game for at least three months."
Payne went into Ireland's slender victory over the Wallabies on Saturday carrying what assistant coach Andy Farrell termed a "lower-limb tweak".
The influential midfielder shrugged off that problem to pass late fitness checks, but was later withdrawn at half-time.
Ireland boss Joe Schmidt described Payne's injury as "a decent whack in the ribs" in the wake of his side's win over the Wallabies.
But now Ireland have revealed their defensive captain will certainly miss the majority of the forthcoming Six Nations championship.
Ulster wing Andrew Trimble picked up a "tendon issue" in his foot during the Australia clash, and will be sidelined for two weeks.