Payne set to make Ulster return in Treviso

Ireland’s Jared Payne returns to a strong Ulster’s match-day squad for tomorrow’s difficult Pro12 trip to Treviso.

Payne — out with a foot injury sustained on his international debut against South Africa in November — should see game time as coach Neil Doak makes two changes from the side that lost to Leinster last week. South African Louis Ludik, the only non-international in the back line, returns at full-back after being rested last week while Franco van Der Merwe misses out due to a chest infection, with Alan O’Connor named alongside Dan Tuohy.

Winger Tommy Bowe has recovered sufficiently from a dead leg to continue on the right wing while Rory Best will skipper a side desperate to finish in the play-offs.

Best said: “We know that first and foremost we have to be the top four of the Pro12 by the end of the league competition. We know we are a top four team and we know we can be in those play-offs.”

Best has vowed not to go down without a fight in the European Champions Cup next weekend.

“We will certainly give it our all in Toulon next week. They are the defending champions and a world class team and irrespective of what happens we will not be rolling over in Belfast when Leicester come the following week.

“There are a lot of injuries in the squad and the people coming in are doing a job. We have said as a group that it is not the 15 who lift the trophy that count, it is the guys who get you there. Leinster, whom we played last week, are probably the ultimate example of that. They went from fourth or fifth to top from the points they picked up during the Six Nations, when their front liners were away last season.

“We are still scrapping away, we are still in there at the right end of the table.”

He added: “If we can keep our boys trucking away and keep getting the wins and get a bit of a run on during the Six Nations period, then we will be there. Starting on Sunday it is time for us to hit form.”

BENETTON TREVISO: J Hayward; A Esposito, M Campagnaro, L Morisi, A Pratichetti; S Christie, E Gori; M Zanusso, D Giazzon, R Harden; T Vallejos, C Van Zyl; M Barbini, A Zanni (capt), D Budd.

Replacements: A Anae, J Novak, D Rae, M Fuser, F Minto, M Swanepoel, J Ambrosini, A Lucchese.

ULSTER: L Ludik; T Bowe, D Cave, S Olding, C Gilroy; P Jackson, R Pienaar; C Black, R Best, W Herbst; A O’Connor, D Tuohy; R Diack, C Ross, R Wilson.

Replacements: R Herring, A Warwick, B Ross, L Stevenson, S Reidy, P Marshall, J Payne, P Nelson.


A new RTÉ series takes viewers behind the scenes at Ireland’s finest eateries – including Restaurant Chestnut, a Michelin award-winner within six months of opening. Vickie Maye meets the chef behind it, Rob KrawczykGoing beyond the menu: RTÉ series goes behind the scenes at some of Ireland's finest restaurants

Whether you’re into a ‘no make-up make-up’ look or jet black lipstick, LFW had it all.These are the biggest beauty looks from a vampy London Fashion Week

It will take you out of your beauty comfort zone, but is remarkably easy to pull off.London Fashion Week: This top make-up artist wants you to ditch your cat-eye for a ‘blue fade’

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine advises a 20-something man who isn’t having any luck meeting women in bars and clubs.Ask a counsellor: ‘Neither me or my mates have had a date for years – what are we doing wrong?’

More From The Irish Examiner