Tuesday 22 August 2017

'We're guilty in the media of forgetting about Payne' - Sky pundit Barnes on Ireland centre's shock Lions call-up

Ireland's full-back Jared Payne (R) passes the ball by England's Jonathan Joseph during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on March 18, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Adrian DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Ireland's full-back Jared Payne (R) passes the ball by England's Jonathan Joseph during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on March 18, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Adrian DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Of all the names bandied about as possible Lions tourists ahead of today's squad announcement, few were pushing the candidacy of Jared Payne.

The New Zealand-born centre has missed most of this season with a fractured kidney, and only returned to the Irish team for the Six Nations finale against England at the Aviva Stadium.

Read more: 11 Irish players named in Lions squad with Jared Payne among the surprise inclusions

His performance did enough to convince Warren Gatland to bring him to New Zealand, with Lions defence coach Andy Farrell - who has the same role with Ireland - likely outlining his player's strength in yesterday's final selection meeting.

Payne's ability to play both 13 and 15 undoubtedly worked in his favour, with the 31-year-old squeezing into the squad ahead of current Ireland outside centre Garry Ringrose.

Speaking on Sky Sports News after the announcement, pundit and former Lion Stuart Barnes said that Payne's selection was the big surprise of the day, along with the inclusion of Welsh back row Ross Moriarty.

"For me the two big shocks are Ross Moriarty and Jared Payne," Barnes said.

"We're guilty in the media of forgetting about Payne. He is versatile and he is a defensive organiser. They are the two big surprises for me."

Payne has been capped 20 times for Ireland since making his debut against South Africa in 2014.

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