'I have to give up the dream' - Jared Payne to become Ulster's new defence coach after being forced into retirement
Ulster and Ireland centre Jared Payne has been forced into early retirement and will take up the role as the province's new defence coach.
The New Zealand-born centre has not played any rugby since the Lions meeting with the Chiefs on June 20 last year when he was struck with a headache-related problem.
The 32-year-old had been training with Ulster but has been suffering from recurrent headaches after sessions.
Payne, who is originally from Tauranga in New Zealand, represented Ulster on 78 occasions and earned 20 Ireland caps in an outstanding playing career.
Commenting on his new role, Jared said: "It's been a good ride but unfortunately every good thing has to come to an end. Playing rugby has taken me to places I never thought I'd see and allowed me meet people I never thought I'd meet.
"Firstly, I'd like to thank my parents for all their help in my younger years and my brother Josh for being a live tackle bag! Thanks also to the coaches and team mates throughout the years that have made living this dream possible, and to the staff, volunteers and fans that make game days so special. The support that I've received from my partner Chrissie and sons Jake and Tyler, particularly over the past 12 months, has been incredible.
"I would like to thank all of the medical professionals who have supported me since my injury occurred back in June last year. I'm extremely grateful for your considerable care and attention.
"While I will undoubtedly miss the buzz of running out with mates every weekend, I have to listen to the medical advice and unfortunately give up the dream. However, I've surprised myself how much I have enjoyed coaching and I'm really looking forward to getting my teeth into this role on a permanent basis.
"Finally, I'd like to thank the management here at Ulster for giving me the opportunity to contribute in this way and I look forward to trying to repay the faith shown in me."
Payne will also join the Irish coaching team for next month's tour of Australia.
David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, added: "It is unfortunate that Jared's playing career has been cut short as he was such a positive influence for both Ulster and Ireland. We are delighted that he has joined Ulster's coaching group as he has the rugby intellect to thrive as a coach and has illustrated his credentials and potential with Ulster over the past few months.
"As an investment in his development Jared will spend some time with the Ireland set-up on the summer tour to Australia working with the national coaches."
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