Jared Payne set to miss majority of Ireland's Six Nations campaign
JARED PAYNE could miss the RBS Six Nations after suffering a kidney injury in Ireland's 27-24 win over Australia.
Ulster centre Payne has been ruled out "for at least three months", according to a statement from the Irish Rugby Football Union. The 31-year-old has a slim chance of finding fitness for Ireland's final two Six Nations clashes, in Wales on March 10 and against England in Dublin eight days later.
"Jared Payne suffered a kidney injury in the first half of the Australia match," read the IRFU statement.
"He is expected to be out of the game for at least three months."
Payne went into Ireland's slender victory over the Wallabies last Saturday carrying what assistant-coach Andy Farrell termed a "lower-limb tweak". The influential midfielder shrugged off that problem to pass late fitness checks, but was withdrawn at half-time.
Ireland boss Joe Schmidt described Payne's injury as "a decent whack in the ribs" in the wake of his side's win over the Wallabies. But now, Ireland have revealed their defensive captain will certainly miss the majority of the forthcoming Six Nations championship. Ulster wing Andrew Trimble picked up a "tendon issue" in his foot during the Australia clash and will be sidelined for two weeks.
Meanwhile, international lock Devin Toner has signed a three-year contract with the IRFU. The deal, announced jointly by the IRFU and his provincial team, will see him remain with Leinster until at least June 2020.
Toner, 30, is an integral part of the successful Ireland set-up under head coach Joe Schmidt. The 42 time-capped forward featured in Ireland's Six Nations title-winning teams of 2014 and '15 and helped Ireland beat New Zealand and Australia. His equally-impressive Leinster career, meanwhile, has produced European Cup and PRO12 title successes.
IRFU performance director David Nucifora said: "Devin is a top-class international second-row and has grown into a leader for both Ireland and Leinster.
"His performances for Ireland over the past number of seasons have been outstanding, and he continues to show growth and an appetite to develop his game."
And Toner added: "I am delighted to have re-signed with the IRFU and Leinster.
"There is a huge amount of talent coming through at Leinster, and it is a really exciting time to be involved with the province. There is a real opportunity to be successful at both provincial and national level over the coming years and I look forward to playing a part in helping to achieve that success."