8 Nov 2014

NZer Payne to make Ireland debut

3:05 pm on 8 November 2014

The New Zealand rugby player Jared Payne is set to make his Ireland debut after being unveiled as part of a new midfield partnership to face South Africa in Dublin this weekend.

Ulster's Jared Payne is tackled by Leinster's Jamie Heaslip.

Ulster's Jared Payne is tackled by Leinster's Jamie Heaslip. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Ulster player is joined by Connacht youngster Robbie Henshaw in a surprise selection by New Zealand born Ireland coach Joe Schmidt.

Payne, who played Super Rugby for the Chiefs, Crusaders and Blues, and was captain of Northland in the New Zealand domestic competition, starts for the first time after living in Ireland long enough to switch allegiance.

He was expected to battle it out with the 21-year-old Henshaw for the number 13 jersey left vacant by Brian O'Driscoll's retirement.

O'Driscoll started over 50 Tests next to former Leinster team-mate Gordon D'Arcy, who misses out.

Schmidt says D'Arcy has returned to training following injury and will feature later in the November series, with games against Georgia and Australia to come.

After suffering a number of injuries ahead of the series, a list that includes British and Irish Lions forwards Sean O'Brien and Cian Healy, Schmidt made four other changes to the team that won the Six Nations championship in France last March.

Simon Zebo and fit-again Tommy Bowe replace the injured Dave Kearney and Andrew Trimble on the wings while the Leinster pair of Sean Cronin and Jack McGrath come in for Healy and Rory Best who was ruled out with a calf strain.

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer has remained loyal to the players who beat New Zealand last month by naming an unchanged starting lineup for the opening match of their northern hemisphere tour in Dublin.

Ireland: 15-Rob Kearney, 14-Tommy Bowe, 13-Robbie Henshaw, 12-Jared Payne, 11-Simon Zebo, 10-Jonathan Sexton, 9-Conor Murray, 8-Jamie Heaslip, 7-Chris Henry, 6-Peter O'Mahony, 5-Paul O'Connell (captain), 4-Devin Toner, 3-Mike Ross, 2-Sean Cronin, 1-Jack McGrath

Replacements: 16-Richardt Strauss, 17-Dave Kilcoyne, 18-Rodney Ah You, 19-Mike McCarthy, 20-Rhys Ruddock, 21-Eoin Reddan, 22-Ian Madigan, 23-Felix Jones