Jared Payne is getting a lot of love from Irish Rugby fans. The Auckland-born back has been a divisive figure in replacing Brian O'Driscoll as Ireland's outside centre, but it appears that fans are united about getting Payne in Schmidt's XV for the Six Nations.
Except that everyone wants Payne in the team as a fullback.
It's where he's played the most amount of rugby, and Payne is thriving in the space. His counter attacking skills are a big feature of his game, one which he isn't able to utilise from the outside centre position. Ulster's third try in the thrashing of French side Oyonnax was all about Payne's intelligence at exposing space from full-back, and the score attributed to Rory Scholes was fantastic:
— Sky Sports Rugby (@SkySportsRugby) January 23, 2016
Payne's stepping ability is increased when he builds up steam from the back, and it has been in evidence throughout his Ulster career. He's been the standout player in an impressive Ulster performance from Payne today, with Ulster's second try to Darren Cave also noteworthy from Payne.
Ulster took a move right from the Joe Schmidt playbook, playing the ball back inside from a ruck, onto an onrushing Payne (playing the Rob Kearney role), before a nice offload to Cave to run in the score:
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Here's one place where we saw the move before:
Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE