Easterby backs 'special' talent Ringrose as Payne to miss Wales clash
Jared Payne sat out Ireland training at Carton House yesterday and is now almost certain to miss Friday's Six Nations clash against Wales.
The Ulster centre has played twice for his province since returning from the serious kidney injury he suffered against Australia in November, but picked up unrelated bruising against Treviso on Friday after being called back into the Ireland squad for Rounds Four and Five.
Ability to participate in yesterday's session was the key barometer ahead of Friday's Cardiff showdown.
Rob Kearney trained fully and should retain the No 15 shirt, but Payne joined Joey Carbery, Dan Leavy and Tiernan O'Halloran in sitting it out.
His absence means Joe Schmidt is not expected to deviate too far from the team that started the win over France, although Andrew Trimble's absence means there will definitely be one change to the 23-man squad.
Payne's expected return had thrown the focus on to Garry Ringrose, who has started the first three Six Nations games at outside-centre, and the Ireland management have no hesitation in sticking with the 22-year-old for the remaining games.
"We can all say how impressed we have been with Garry," said forwards coach Simon Easterby. "He is a young man in years but he certainly looks like he is playing beyond those years in terms of his understanding of the game, his awareness.
"He is an intelligent player, he sees things that a lot of players can't see. We've known for a long time that he is something special and he hasn't done too much wrong.
"He's very diligent. He gets on with his job, he works incredibly hard at all aspects of his game.
"He sees things early. It's nice to watch him play because there's not too many players around with the ability to see things almost before they happen.
"He's still learning, there are a lot of things he'll want to improve on. All areas of his game will be fine-tuned over the next few years. Let's not put too much pressure on him. He's a quality individual."