I hope Henshaw doesn't beat me up too much - Payne
Published 09/04/2015 | 02:30
Ireland midfield partners Jared Payne and Robbie Henshaw will put their growing playing relationship on hold when Ulster face Connacht in a crunch Pro12 clash in Galway on Saturday.
Kiwi-born Payne was more or less the silent partner as Henshaw took most of the plaudits as Ireland retained the Six Nations Championship title.
But it was widely acknowledged that it was the Ulster player's experience and nous that helped the younger man shine.
Now Payne will be out to 'protect' himself against the strapping centre from Athlone.
"I spent a lot of time with him and I have been texting him this week," said Payne, who scored his first try in Ireland colours in the victory over Scotland.
"It will be interesting to play against him, we know a bit about each other's game and it will be interesting to see how that translates when we play against each other.
"It will be good and hopefully we'll have a few laughs out there. Hopefully he won't beat me up too much," smiled Payne (pictured), who is glad to get back to normal league duties with Ulster.
"It's good to be back and be back in the system. But it was good to win the competition and it was a pretty unreal ride to win the Six Nations.
"The medal is tucked away in a drawer. But you can't look back at that now as I have pretty important things to do here."
"It was a pretty strange day, we had heard just before the game that we needed 21 points and we won and did that. Then to sit around and watch the English game, it was end to end stuff with 90-odd points in the game.
"It was unbelievable and the emotions were all over the place and I was pretty shot by the end of the night but it was good just to get over the line.
"We sat and watched the England game after our match and the Scottish boys were very good they sort of paused the whole after-match thing, so we could watch the game then we went out and did the presentation.
"It was unbelievable the amount of fans that had stayed behind and it was a big party out there," said Payne.
Meanwhile, Ulster have raided doomed London Welsh for two Irish-qualified players. They have signed lock Peter Browne and scrum-half Paul Rowley.
Brown (27), whose father Leonard is Irish, also played for Newcastle Falcons and Harlequins.
Rowley (26) began his career at the Munster Academy and played for the province's U-19 and U-20 sides before moving to Plymouth Albion and then Welsh, who have lost every game in the English Premiership this season.