Payne was confident that Keith Earls and Paul O'Connell, both suffering from groin injuries as well, would be available for selection for Sunday week. "Their injuries are hangovers from the RBS Six Nations internationals, he said, " and have been ongoing issues as a result, whereas Nick's is more a one-off injury."
"They're very frustrating injuries both for the players themselves and the medical staff because they can settle down then flare up. It's not like a break that heals in a certain amount of time. It's an injury that needs rest and the more you load it the worse it's going to get. At the minute it's a question then of managing the workload. They need rest, they need rehab. It's a balancing act."
Asked about his concerns of not having four front line players available for Saturday's game and therefore lacking game time ahead of the Heineken semi final Payne said, " Look, these are concerns we've had to deal with year after year. Is it a concern ? Yes it is. Is it something new to us ? No, absolutely not. We have this year in year out especially at this time of the season. We're getting down to the business end of the season. We're used to this scenario.
Payne confirmed that Ian Dowling and Doug Howlett - both out since the Northampton game - are recovering very well and expressed confidence that both would be available for selection next week, admitting both had in fact been very close to being available for the Ospreys game.