Ireland recall Zebo for November series

Simon Zebo was recalled by Ireland after a four-year exile when head coach Andy Farrell named the wing in a 38-man squad announced on Wednesday for the November internationals at home to Japan, New Zealand and Argentina.

The 31-year-old Zebo left Paris-based Racing 92 ahead of the current European campaign to rejoin Irish province Munster on a one-year contract.

Having been left out of Ireland’s pre-season while he took part in the French Top 14 playoffs, Zebo has been recalled for next month’s trio of Tests at Lansdowne Road.

Zebo, who has won 35 Ireland caps, effectively went into international exile when he joined Racing 92 from Munster in 2018 as the Irish Rugby Football Union generally avoids considering overseas-based players for selection.

Meanwhile Ireland captain Johnny Sexton, who also missed the victories over Japan and the United States in July, has returned to the squad and the gifted flyhalf could win his 100th cap for his country against the Japanese on 6 November.

Six Ireland players who were involved in the British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa are back in the squad, with Bundee Aki, Conor Murray, Iain Henderson, Jack Conan, Tadhg Furlong and Tadhg Beirne set to feature against Japan, New Zealand (13 November) and Argentina (21 November).

Robbie Henshaw has not been included in the squad but the IRFU said the Leinster centre will continue his recovery from a foot injury “under the supervision of the Ireland medical team”.

Farrell has selected uncapped Leinster hooker Dan Sheehan and centre Ciaran Frawley in his squad, while six players who made their Test debuts in July have also been included.

‘Exciting period’

“This is the start of an exciting period for the group as we begin to build towards the Rugby World Cup in France,” said Farrell.

“In a few weeks’ time we will face an exciting and well-coached Japan team who showed in July what a dangerous team they are.”

The former dual-code international added: “New Zealand dominated the Rugby Championship, losing just one game, while Argentina are battle hardened from playing the southern hemisphere’s ‘big three’ week in, week out over the past two months.

“It would be fantastic to play in front of a full house at the Aviva Stadium. We had small crowds back in for the games in July and even that made a huge difference to the team and the atmosphere in the stadium.”

Ireland squad

Backs (18) 

Bundee Aki (Connacht), Robert Baloucoune (Ulster), Harry Byrne (Leinster), Joey Carbery (Munster), Craig Casey (Munster), Andrew Conway (Munster), Keith Earls (Munster), Ciaran Frawley (Leinster), Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster), James Hume (Ulster), Hugo Keenan (Leinster), Jordan Larmour (Leinster), James Lowe (Leinster), Stuart McCloskey (Ulster), Conor Murray (Munster), Garry Ringrose (Leinster), Johnny Sexton (Leinster, c), Simon Zebo (Munster).

Forwards (20)

Ryan Baird (Leinster), Finlay Bealham (Connacht), Tadhg Beirne (Munster), Jack Conan (Leinster), Gavin Coombes (Munster), Ultan Dillane (Connacht), Caelan Doris (Leinster), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster), Cian Healy (Leinster), Iain Henderson (Ulster), Rob Herring (Ulster), Ronan Kelleher (Leinster), Dave Kilcoyne (Munster), Peter O’Mahony (Munster), Tom O’Toole (Ulster), Andrew Porter (Leinster), James Ryan (Leinster), Dan Sheehan (Leinster), Nick Timoney (Ulster), Josh van der Flier (Leinster).

© Agence France-Presse

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