Sunday 15 December 2019

Jared Payne ruled out of Australia clash

Jared Payne has been ruled out of Ireland's crunch clash with Australia this Saturday.

The Ireland centre, who shone alongside Robbie Henshaw against South Africa in Ireland's opening autumn international, has a sprained foot but there was better news for Rory Best who looks certain to play.

With the Ulster star ruled out, Gordon D'Arcy will be the favourite to join Henshaw in the centre.

There is a possibility that Ian Madigan may move to the centre but we will only know for certain when Joe Schmidt names his team on Thursday.

Australia pose a serious threat in the midfield with Tevita Kuridrani in very good form over recent weeks.

After Ireland chiefs confirmed Payne's absence this weekend, forwards coach Simon Easterby said Ireland value performance levels over a potential seventh consecutive victory.

"I think the performance is first and foremost," said Easterby.

"You get the performance right, then you get your processes right, and you get results out of the back of that.

"Is it important to us to get a clean sweep? Not really.

"Is it important to us to keep improving and keep getting better as a team and players? Yes, and that's first and foremost.

"Continual improvement is the most important thing."

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