Ulster's Jared Payne ruled out of Pro12 match against Munster

Jared Payne will miss Ulster's match against Munster with an ankle injury
Jared Payne will miss Ulster's match against Munster with an ankle injury
Pro12: Munster v Ulster
Date: Saturday, 15 April Venue: Thomond Park, Limerick Kick-off: 15:00 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Ulster medium wave and the BBC Sport website, plus live scores online

Jared Payne will miss Ulster's crucial Pro12 match against Munster because of an ankle injury sustained in the draw with Cardiff Blues in Belfast.

Chris Henry is available again however after being absent for the Kingspan Stadium encounter with a niggle.

Munster duo Conor Murray and CJ Stander are likely to be ruled out as they continue their recovery from injury.

Murray has not played since suffering a shoulder injury when in action for Ireland against Wales on 10 March.

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Andrew Trimble shares the Ulster captaincy with Rob Herring

Stander sustained an ankle problem during the Irish province's Champions Cup quarter-final win over Toulouse.

Both players are now in a race to be fit for Munster's Champions Cup game against Saracens in Dublin on 22 April.

Munster Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus conceded on Monday that scrum-half Murray's 'stinger' is more severe than first feared.

The Ireland international has been reported to be close to a return on a weekly basis but has not been available for selection and pulled out of his side's emphatic last-eight 41-16 win in Europe.

CJ Stander and Conor Murray are both in the frame to tour New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions
CJ Stander and Conor Murray are both in the frame to tour New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions

Stander was photographed wearing a prototype boot last week but Erasmus believes he is the more likely of the two to be fit to face the Champions Cup and Premiership champions.

Munster remain cautiously optimistic that the pair, who are both very much in the frame for selection for the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand, will make it with 11 days to go until the Aviva Stadium encounter.

Fly-half Ian Keatley is likely to return for the visit of Irish interprovincial rivals Ulster this weekend, while Donnacha Ryan and Tyler Bleyendaal are undergoing return to play protocols after suffering concussions.

Munster are challenging for honours on both the European and domestic fronts and boosted their chances of securing a home Pro12 semi-final by seeing off Glasgow 10-7 on Saturday night.

That victory left them seven points clear of third-placed Ospreys in the standings.

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Les Kiss warns that Munster's Thomond Park is a 'savage place' to go

Ulster have dropped to fifth in the table, level on points with the Scarlets, who moved above them into fourth by defeating Treviso with a bonus point on Saturday.

Payne could return to face the Ospreys on 29 April as his side continue their quest for a place in the end-of-season play-offs.

Props Ross Kane and Kyle McCall are also nearing a return to full fitness.

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