The lucky thirteen for Ireland?

Date published: October 23 2014

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Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has revealed that either Robbie Henshaw or Jared Payne will likely wear the number 13 jersey next month.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has revealed that either Robbie Henshaw or Jared Payne will likely wear the number thirteen jersey next month.

With talismanic figure Brian O’Driscoll having retired, the debate rolls on as to who is Ireland’s next outside centre for November and beyond.

Connacht centre Henshaw appears to be the front-runner at the current time but it’s apparent that Schmidt is also a fan of Ulster star Payne.

“I think he has started the season very, very well for Connacht,” said Ireland head coach Schmidt, speaking to the Irish Times on Thursday.

“I think he’s more ready than he was last year.”

He added on whether he knew if Henshaw or Payne would start against South Africa and possibly the remaining November international fixtures: “No, to be honest. There’s two players there right now with Robbie and Jared and those two players are likely to get some time there, providing they come through fit this weekend. That’s where we’re looking at the moment.”

Darren Cave was on the bench for Ulster in the European Champions Cup opener against Leicester last weekend as Payne was preferred. But Schmidt, who was quick to point out that he had “no influence” on selections at the four provinces, said he was still in the frame.

“On our radar remain Darren Cave and Keith Earls, or adapting somebody else to the position, but the first bite of the cherry is likely to go to those two guys,” he added.

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