Ireland centre Jared Payne has said he is “buzzing” after being named to start at second centre against the Blues on Wednesday.
Payne’s appearance will mark his debut for the Lions after he was ruled out of the matchday squad against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians with a calf strain.
“I can’t wait. I’m buzzing. I can’t wait to run out at Eden Park in front of a packed house and get stuck into it,” Payne told BBC Sport.
The centre played for the Blues in 2011, before completing a move to Ulster, but he feels that playing against one of his former sides holds no major differences to any other game.
“It’s going to be fun. There’s a few friend in there [the Blues team]. I can’t wait to get out there, but you approach it the same as any other game really. You might get a shot on them, or they might get a shot on you and there’ll be a few jokes at the bottom of a ruck, but from there it’s just another game and you’ve just got to make sure you do your job.
He also admitted that he was unsure whether he would recover from injury in time to face the Blues, but that he has come through his calf problems successfully.
“There always is [a doubt] when you come back from injuries, you never know how the body is going to respond. It’s one of those unfortunate things as a rugby player, you can’t control everything,” said Payne. “But I’m happy to be here, to put the jersey on and get a crack on Wednesday.”
Payne’s partner in the centre for Ireland, Robbie Henshaw, will also line out versus the Blues, union that Payne is keen to renew.
“It’s going to be good to get back out with Robbie. He’s a quality player and hopefully we can pick up where we left off a few months past,” said Payne. “It’s going to be good.”
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