British and Irish Lions 2017: Ireland's Jared Payne shocked to be picked

Ireland international Jared Payne has been with Ulster for six seasons
Ireland international Jared Payne has been with Ulster for six seasons

Ulster back Jared Payne said he was hugely surprised to be included in the 41-man British and Irish Lions squad for the tour to New Zealand.

The 31-year-old, born in New Zealand but Irish qualified having played for Ulster since 2011, was seen as one of the more unexpected inclusions.

His Ulster team-mates Rory Best and Iain Henderson have also been selected.

"It was a pretty big shock and something which has come out of the blue for me," said Payne.

"I am hugely proud and my family are all over the moon as you can imagine. It hasn't really sunk in yet.

"It is great for Ulster, and for me to have a few friendly faces on the trip.

"Those two have worked hard over the last few years and it is good to see them recognised."

Payne, who operates at centre or full-back, has won 20 caps since making his Ireland debut against South Africa in 2014.

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Ireland's Iain Henderson thrilled by Lions selection

Forward Henderson said he heard about his selection by watching the announcement on television.

"I was definitely more nervous than I'd usually be watching TV in my living room," admitted the 25-year-old.

"It was enjoyable to hear my name read out and I am immensely proud."

British and Irish Lions 2017 squad

Forwards: Rory Best (Ireland), Dan Cole (England), Taulupe Faletau (Wales), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), Jamie George (England), Iain Henderson (Ireland), Maro Itoje (England), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), George Kruis (England), Courtney Lawes (England), Joe Marler (England), Jack McGrath (Ireland), Ross Moriarty (Wales), Sean O'Brien (Ireland), Peter O'Mahony (Ireland), Ken Owens (Wales), Kyle Sinckler (England), CJ Stander (Ireland), Justin Tipuric (Wales), Billy Vunipola (England), Mako Vunipola (England), Sam Warburton (Wales)

Backs: Dan Biggar (Wales), Elliot Daly (England), Jonathan Davies (Wales), Owen Farrell (England), Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), Stuart Hogg (Scotland), Jonathan Joseph (England), Conor Murray (Ireland), George North (Wales), Jack Nowell (England), Jared Payne (Ireland), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland), Tommy Seymour (Scotland), Ben Te'o (England), Anthony Watson (England), Rhys Webb (Wales), Liam Williams (Wales), Ben Youngs (England)

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