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Shaun Payne
Cathal Noonan/Inpho
100 Not Out For Payne
11 November 2007, 9:26 am
By Pat Geraghty
When Shaun Payne runs out on Thomond Park this afternoon he will win his 100th competitive cap in a Munster jersey.
The hugely popular and respected Munster full-back was born in Cape Town, his paternal grandmother having emigrated from Sligo which meant he qualified for an Irish passport and accordingly was eligible to play for Ireland. Unfortunately, his consistency and quiet brilliance was never recognised at national level.
He started his rugby playing career as a scrum-half but switched to centre/full back during his stint of National Service when he represented the South African Air Force U21 side. In University he played with Natal U21s then the senior side and in 1995, just turned 23 years of age, he made the breakthrough into the Natal Sharks first team.
21 of the 80+ caps he won for Natal came in the Super 12. He played in two Currie Cup finals, was a Super 10 losing finalist beaten by Queensland in King's Park and was on the Sharks squad that travelled to Auckland for the 1996 Super 12 final.
In 1999 he upped sticks and moved to Wales joining Swansea where along with a Scottish-Welsh League medal he won 22 Heineken Cup caps.
When news that Swansea were going into administration, the then Munster coach Alan Gaffney was immediately on the phone and after four enjoyable years in south Wales, Payne and wife Michelle found themselves in Douglas in Cork, neighours to Ronan O'Gara, Frank Sheahan, Peter Stringer and Christian Cullen.
And for Payne the decision to move across the Irish Sea was an easy one, " To be honest it wasn't much of a choice to make really. It was a decision to join the new regional side (Neath-Swansea Ospreys) or join Munster. I didn't approach any other club, my agent didn't put out my CV to any other club."
One of the determining factors was Christian Cullen who was also on his way to Munster. " I was in awe of the man, still am. The prospect of playing in the same team as him was fantastic."
And of course the rest is history. Payne arrived, made his debut in the Celtic League 15-8 win against Leinster in Donnybrook. Three months later he won the first of his 100 Munster caps against Bourgoin in Stade Pierre Rajon, a game Munster won 18-17.

He now lives in Killaloe close to Anthony Foley and at the start of this season announced his retirement from the professional playing side to take up duty as Munster team manager. His intention was to continue playing club rugby with UL Bohemians which of course would make him available to Munster as a permit player should the need arise.
Very quickly that need did arise. Injuries to Mossy Lawlor and Denis Hurley in the pre-season match programme meant a quick return to playing action for the 35 year old. Last weekend a try saving tackle and a superbly taken try reminded everyone of what a great asset he is and has been since his arrival in Munster.


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