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Ulster have suffered a major blow with confirmation that Jared Payne will leave their coaching staff at the end of this season. 

The province say their defence coach is leaving to pursue coaching opportunities "overseas."

A head injury sustained on the 2017 Lions tour forced Payne to retire from playing in May of 2018, and the Kiwi-born former Ireland full-back quickly transitioned into coaching.

Payne was named Ulster's defence coach in the same breath as the end of his playing days were confirmed.

“A big thank-you to the Ulster community, the fans, players and staff that have made my time here special," the 36-year old said in a parting statement.

“I will forever be grateful for the opportunities and experiences that we have shared, and I look forward to hopefully adding to those over these final few months.”

Head coach Dan McFarland added, "We all know how much Jared has given to Ulster, as a player, and as an important part of our coaching set-up since 2018.

“Jared has helped to shape who we are as a club over the past decade, and what we want to achieve, and his influence will continue to be felt in the years ahead.

"Jared’s desire to learn and improve himself as a coach has been impressive and it has been this spirit, in particular, that has made him a core part of our culture.

“On behalf of myself, the support staff, and the wider club, I would like to thank Jared for his significant contribution to Ulster, and he leaves with our best wishes for this next chapter.”

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