Zebo a major doubt for June tour
Published 12/05/2016 | 02:30
Joe Schmidt has suffered a potential double blow ahead of the summer tour of South Africa with news that Simon Zebo and Josh van der Flier have been sent for surgery.
Van der Flier is definitely out, Leinster having ruled their flanker out for eight weeks after he underwent an ankle operation.
Munster have not set a return date for Zebo, who played at full-back for Ireland during the Six Nations. However, the the 26-year-old must be rated extremely after having keyhole surgery on his knee.
With Rob Kearney also struggling with his ankle at the end of an injury-hit season, the door could open for Jared Payne to revert to full-back next month.
Van der Flier's injury is a blow at the end of the openside's break-out season and leaves Schmidt short of options in the back-row as Sean O'Brien remains out with his hamstring.
Kearney and Johnny Sexton (quad) are both said to be "making good progress". After last weekend's win over Treviso, Leo Cullen revealed that Sexton had suffered a "bang on his quad" but the out-half also required a couple of minutes' attention to his head/neck area after shipping a heavy tackle. He was replaced immediately afterwards.
Meanwhile, Munster centre Francis Saili has also gone under the knife to fix a shoulder injury.