Jared Payne to take centre stage for Ulster

Luke Fitzgerald could also feature for Leinster off the bench tomorrow night

Jared Payne receives his red card from referee Jerome Garces during Ulster’s Heineken Cup quarter-final against Saracens. Photograph: Darren Kidd/Inpho

Jared Payne receives his red card from referee Jerome Garces during Ulster’s Heineken Cup quarter-final against Saracens. Photograph: Darren Kidd/Inpho


Having served his two-week suspension for his red card in the Heineken Cup, Ulster’s Jared Payne comes straight back into Mark Anscombe’s side – albeit at his less familiar role of outside centre – for tomorrow night’s Rabo Pro12 showdown with Leinster (7.30pm kick-off).

Anscombe has named the 28-year-old at number 13 for the sold-out clash against the league leaders, which will also act as the official opening of the newly redeveloped Ravenhill Stadium. Two other changes from the loss to Glasgow a fortnight ago include Andrew Warwick at tighthead and Roger Wilson, returning from injury, in the back row.

With the prospect of a home semi-final in the play-offs a long shot, prop Tom Court and second row Johann Muller are set to make their final appearances at Ravenhill.

“It is no secret that the last four years are possibly the best of my rugby career,” Muller said today. “I have just enjoyed it so much. My family has been so happy in Belfast and the people of Northern Ireland have been absolutely outstanding to my family and I. We have loved it here.”

Leinster coach Matt O’Connor has been able to include Luke Fitzgerald in his matchday squad for the first time since the end of March as his troublesome abductor strain appears to have finally cleared up.

O’Connor has made four changes to his starting line-up with Ian Madigan coming back in at outhalf with Gordon D’Arcy outside him in the inside centre channel. Dave Kearney replaces Darragh Fanning on the wing and the only change in the pack sees Jordi Murphy make way for Shane Jennings at openside flanker.

Ulster: R Andrew; A Trimble, J Payne, L Marshall, T Bowe; P Jackson, P Marshall; T Court, R Herring, A Warwick; J Muller, I Henderson; R Wilson, C Henry, N Williams. Replacements: N Annett, C Black, A Macklin, D Tu ohy, S Doyle, M Heaney, J McKinney, D Cave.

Leinster: R Kearney; Z Kirchner, B O’Driscoll, G D’Arcy, D Kearney; I Madigan, I Boss; C Healy, S Cronin, M Moore; D Toner, M McCarthy; R Ruddock, S Jennings, J Heaslip. Replacements: R Strauss, J McGrath, M Ross, L Cullen, J Murphy, L McGrath, J Gopperth, L Fitzgerald

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