Zebo's deal opens door to Ireland call-up
TRANSFER NEWS: Ireland’s Simon Zebo is to return to Munster for the 2021/22 campaign, the Irish province announced Wednesday.
Zebo, Munster’s all-time record try-scorer, has spent the past three seasons with French club Racing 92.
But the fullback, who can also play wing, will now rejoin Munster on a one-year contract part-funded by the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU).
By joining Racing, for whom he has scored 21 tries in 55 appearances so far, Zebo effectively put his Ireland career on hold as the IRFU generally prefer to select players from their home provinces for Tests – a position that hardened during star flyhalf Johnny Sexton’s time with the Paris-based club from 2013-15.
But Zebo now has the chance to add to his tally of nine tries in 35 internationals and potentially push for a place in the Ireland squad for the 2023 World Cup in France.
“I am thrilled and honoured to be coming back home to play for Munster,” said Zebo in a statement.
“My family and I have been so lucky to have enjoyed three incredible years with Racing 92 in Paris and I cannot thank the team there enough. I really have made friends for life and take with me some brilliant memories.”
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But the 31-year-old, who scored 60 tries in 144 appearances for Munster from 2010-18, added: “However, as everyone knows, Munster holds a very special place in my heart and I’ve always said that I wanted to play for them and potentially Ireland again, so when this opportunity arose, the lure of being close to home, family and friends and Munster fans, it outweighed all other options.”
Munster coach Johann van Graan welcomed Zebo’s return by saying: “The opportunity to bring Simon back to Munster came about in early April following a final review of our squad’s budgetary position for season-end and with assistance from the IRFU to support what we believe is a really good deal for Munster and Irish rugby.
“Simon’s desire to return to Ireland and play with his home club is illustrated by his willingness to sign at a level below his market value elsewhere.”