Jared Payne got a "pretty big shock" by Lions selection

The Ulster player is one of 11 Irish players to make the squad

Jared Payne got a "pretty big shock" by Lions selection

Picture by: Ulster Rugby/ Twitter

Jared Payne was one of the shock inclusions in Warren Gatland's Lions squad.

The Ireland back was one of three Ulster players to make the cut, alongside Rory Best and Iain Henderson. Payne will be also joined by his international centre partner Robbie Henshaw in the squad.

Payne has played 20 times for Ireland, and returns to the land of his birth for what will be an emotional return to New Zealand. The 31-year-old left for Ulster in 2011, after spells in Super Rugby with the Chiefs, Crusaders and Blues.

Speaking to Ulster Rugby after the squad was announced, Payne admitted it was "a pretty big shock" to hear his name called out, just after midday on Wednesday afternoon.

"You don't get too many shocks these days with things. It's certainly come out of the blue for me. Obviously I'm proud and over the moon, but pretty surprised as well".

Payne revealed he had received messages from family in New Zealand, before adding the news had yet to sink in.

Along with Best and Henderson, the province will provide three spots on the tour. It is the largest contingent Ulster have provided in the professional era to an original Lions squad.

"It's great for Ulster, and to have a few friendly faces on the trip. Those two have worked bloody hard over the last few years. It's good to see them recognised."