Ulster’s Team For Their PRO12 Clash May Have Revealed Some Crucial Ireland Decisions

This is an interesting one…

Jared Payne starts for Ulster this weekend at outside centre, with Andrew Trimble also lining out from the start on the wing.

Craig Gilroy also starts at fullback, but Payne’s selection at thirteen is certainly an interesting one.

Schmidt has made it clear in the past that he doesn’t interfere with team selections at the provinces, but there’s always a possibility he could have asked his old defence coach for a favour in playing Payne in the centre, who usually lines out at fullback for his province.

The New Zealand born star is highly regarded by Schmidt and has been praised as Ireland’s defensive leader among the players. Garry Ringrose has been excellent in the opening three rounds, but we wouldn’t bet against Schmidt dropping him for Payne.

Trimble starting could also mean that Ireland are confident Rob Kearney will be fit, with the Ulster winger missing out and Schmidt sticking with Zebo and Earls on the wings.

Payne might well come into the centre, with Ringrose acting as the replacement back.

Ulster: Craig Gilroy, Andrew Trimble, Jared Payne, Stuart Olding, Charles Piutau, Pete Nelson, Ruann Pienaar; C Black, Rod Herring (captain), Wiehann Herbst, Kieran Treadwell, Franco van der Merwe, Roger Wilson, Sean Reidy, Marcell Coetzee;

Replacements: John Andrew, Andy Warwick, Ricky Lutton, Pete Browne, Clive Ross, Paul Marshall, Luke Marshall, Jacob Stockdale.

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