Saturday 24 February 2018

Munster to stand up and fight Simon Zebo move


Munster's Simon Zebo tries to evade a tackle by Marco Barbini
Munster's Simon Zebo tries to evade a tackle by Marco Barbini
Munster's Simon Zebo

David Kelly and Cian Tracey

Munster have vowed to fight to hang on to star winger Simon Zebo as they bid to rebuff the increasing attentions of Top 14 side Pau.

"That is all being done in the background," said head coach Anthony Foley yesterday as a report in a local newspaper indicated that a deal had already been done between the French club, coached by Foley's former colleague Simon Mannix, and the Ireland international.

"I don't have any news on that at the moment. It's progressing," added Foley, whose lack of certainty may unnerve Munster supporters given that he also faces a fight to hang on to Conor Murray and Keith Earls.

A source close to the player confirmed to the Irish Independent that "Simon has not committed to any club yet"; for Munster supporters, the last word will assume significance the longer the speculation continues.

Zebo has aroused the attention of a number of other clubs aside from Pau, where ex-Munster trio Paddy Butler, Sean Dougall and James Coughlan ply their trade, with Stade Francais also considering a bid. But Foley pointedly referred to the retention of CJ Stander as the province cling to the prospect of their other stars remaining.

"It is something that lays down a marker for everyone else," he said. "There will be hard decisions, but it's part and parcel of it and we'll have to wait and see," he told this newspaper last month.

"I'm very open-minded, but hopefully everything happens that needs to happen and we should be alright.

"Nothing's moving too quickly at the moment, so people will be bored of seeing my name in the paper, linked with everybody and anybody."

Matt Healy, Connacht's in-form winger, has also begun to attract attention from overseas clubs, while Cian Healy has revealed his intention to remain with Leinster after his current contract expires next summer. The 28-year old has not yet been offered a new deal by the IRFU but despite having been strongly linked with a move to Toulon the last time he was negotiating, he sees his long-term future with his home province.

"That's the dream to play with the club that you grew up with and be the best club in Europe in your home town," he said. "That's what every young lad in Dublin wants."

Irish Independent

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