Payne to leave Blues for Ulster
April 1, 2011
Jared Payne (L) will leave the Blues at the end of the season © Getty Images
Blues centre and Northland captain Jared Payne has signed to play for Irish club Ulster on a three-year deal starting when his 2011 commitments in New Zealand end.
"Making these decisions in the middle of Super Rugby is not easy, but that's the way it works in this game," Payne said. "I'm really enjoying my rugby and being part of the Blues however, I also have ambitions to play rugby overseas while I am young and fit."
Payne, 25, made his first class provincial debut for Waikato in 2006. After two seasons there and one with the Chiefs in 2007, Payne moved to Northland in 2008 and captained the side from 2009. He joined the Crusaders for the 2009 and 2010 campaigns before moving to the Blues this year.
"Jared has been impressive for the Blues this year." Blues coach Pat Lam said. "He grabbed the opportunity for plenty of game time by playing at a consistently high standard and the result is he's in the best form of his career."
Meanwhile, Waikato and former Chiefs utility back Sosene Anesi is poised to join Japanese club NTT Communications at the end of the Super Rugby season.
The one-test All Black, who has been unable to force his way into the Waratahs match-day squad so far this year, announced his latest career move before New South Wales's game against the Chiefs at the Sydney Football Stadium on Friday.
The 29 year-old, a 103 game veteran for Waikato, is seen as a replacement for former Wallabies fullback Mark Gerrard, who returned to Australia to become a foundation member of the Melbourne Rebels.
Anesi joined the Waratahs last year as a marquee player but was soon displaced at fullback by Kurtley Beale, who progressed to make the No.15 jersey his own at international level. It was considered a surprise when Waratahs coach Chris Hickey renewed Anesi's contract for 2011 - since then the 29-year-old has been consigned to training duties.
Anesi made 12 appearances for the Waratahs last year but has been unable to break into a Test-quality back three comprising Beale, Drew Mitchell and Lachlan Turner seven rounds into the 2011 tournament. NTT Communications is also the former club of 2002 All Black loose forward Brad Mika, who left Japan to rejoin the Blues this year.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton reports back from the launch of the Guinness PRO12 where there is a renewed sense of optimism with all of the off-field changes to the league
So much for the great Australian revival, writes Greg Growden. It now has the potential of going off the rails after the capitulation at Eden Park
The latest Week in Pictures takes in photographs from the Rugby Championship, the Top 14 and the southern hemisphere domestic scene
As Ray McLoughlin prepares to celebrate his 75th birthday, Huw Richards pays tribute to the man and the selectors who had the wisdom to bring him into the Ireland fold