Jared Payne: Lions centre still unavailable for Ulster's Wasps European opener

Jared Payne
Jared Payne is yet to feature for Ulster this season after his Lions tour was cut short

Jared Payne will remain out when Ulster begin their European Champions Cup campaign against Wasps on Friday night.

Payne, who turns 32 on Friday, has not played since his British & Irish Lions tour ended prior to the Third Test because he was suffering headaches.

The Ireland centre had been expected to return to Ulster duty late last month.

"Jared won't feature this weekend. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks he will be good to go," said Ulster assistant coach Dwayne Peel.

Peel also added that Ulster are awaiting news from South Africa on Marcell Coetzee's knee injury.

The flanker has returned to his native country to get a consultation with the surgeon who performed his cruciate ligament operation in 2016.

Coetzee suffered ACL damage in April 2016, two months after signing for Ulster, and did not make his debut for the Irish province until February 2017.

However he played four games last season and started against the Cheetahs last month before suffering this latest setback.

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Christian Lealiifano doesn't rule out extending short-term Ulster deal

Lealiifano doesn't rule out extending Ulster deal

Summer signing Christian Lealiifano is set to play his first European club game on Friday and the Australian international has admitted that there could be a possibility of him extending his short-term deal beyond January, when he is scheduled to return to the Brumbies.

"I can't look too far ahead. I'll go until the end of January and do the best I can to help the team perform," said the 30-year-old.

"If something happens down the track, you can't rule that out. I don't know how realistic it is (extending Ulster deal) and I haven't really explored it."

While Wasps have lost four of the opening six games in the Premiership, Ulster assistant coach Peel is expecting a tough test from a team that includes England stars Joe Launchbury and Elliot Daly.

"They are a quality side. They reached the final of the Premiership last season and they had a few guys coming back on Sunday (when beaten 38-19 by Saracens) so we are expecting a stern challenge," said Peel.