"Stephen can play either side, " said Payne, "and he had a particularly good game last Friday night against Leinster A in Clonmel, so now he's provided with a great opportunity to put his hand up."
Speaking to journalists this morning at his regular media briefing in UL, Payne explained that Marcus Horan had been feeling unwell in the early stages of the game against Benetton Treviso and after being replaced was taken to hospital where he spent the night as a precautionary measure.
"He's fine now but will see a specialist later in the week while Tony (Buckley) had a scan yesterday and will not be available for the trip to Edinburgh and given the nature of the injury must remain a doubt for the game against Ulster."
"Doug Howlett tweaked a hamstring late in the first half but it's not serious enough to omit him for the trip to Scotland at this stage." Payne said.
Questioned about early difficulties in scrum Payne continued, "Well yes the first few weren't good but you must remember Marcus wasn't himself obviously and once it settled down, I thought it went went. Don't forget what that Treviso pack did to Perpignan the previous week. As well as that in the Perpignan Northampton game, in the early stages, Perpignan destroyed the Saint pack. But as the game went on they (Saints) settled down and were able to gain parity."
Nor does Payne have any use for the word crisis when it comes to the front row absences. " I prefer the word opportunity. Julien Brugnaut is an experienced prop and I thought Darragh (Hurley) did extremely well when he came. And that's always difficult.So now both have an opportunity.
"Of course you don't like to be without your front line players but we have the back up. And in the number 2 slot we're fortunate to have the likes of Denis Fogarty and Damian Varley.
Munster trained today in Cork and fly out on Thursday evening to Edinburgh.
The starting XV will be announced lunchtime Thursday.
Munster: Felix Jones, Keith Earls, Doug Howlett, Denis Hurley, Ian Dowling, Jean de Villiers, Lifeimi Mafi, Paul Warwick, Ronan O'Gara, Peter Stringer, Tomas O'Leary, Nick Williams, David Wallace, Niall Ronan, Denis Leamy, Alan Quinlan, Mick O'Driscoll, Donnacha Ryan, Donncha O'Callaghan, Paul O'Connell, Damian Varley, Denis Fogarty, AN Other, Stephen Archer, Julien Brugnaut, Darragh Hurley.