Simon Zebo needs to force Joes hand – Rob Penney

first_imgONE OF THE more notable players to have been left out of the extended Ireland squad released yesterday was Simon Zebo.The fact that the Munster wing was name checked amongst those who “will remain with their provinces to gain further recovery time or game time” means that the door is ajar for him to return to the international fray if he can get back to the kind of form that ultimately resulted in him playing for the Lions last season.Matching the performances that made him a renowned name in international rugby will be no easy task, but if anyone has the confidence to pick up momentum in a short space of time, it is Zebo. Munster head coach Rob Penney says he welcomes the pressure on the 23-year-old.The New Zealander explained his thoughts on why the Cork Con clubman isn’t part of Ireland’s 44-man squad. He’s ready to go, otherwise he wouldn’t be in our group. My take is that I would suspect that he just needs to play. He’s been out of the game for three months and there’s some bloody good talent in the outside backs in the Irish frame.“Simon needs to get back, force Joe’s hand and play so well that he can’t leave him out. It’s a great place for Zeebs to be, because he’s going to need to deliver.”Zebo returned to action as a substitute for the southern province last weekend, having fully recovered from the broken foot he sustained in the Heineken Cup defeat to Edinburgh in October. Also back in the fray was Conor Murray, whose knee injury healed in time for the scrum-half to deliver a composed performance against Gloucester. Conor Murray was back at scrum-half for Munster last weekend. ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan.Penney highlighted both players’ returns as vital, while also pointing to the input of the man in Munster’s number two shirt.center_img Without doubt, [Zebo and Murray are] two of the more influential attacking members that we have in our group. They’re crucially important to Munster’s future success. Kudos to Damian Varley to get through the amount of work he got through based on leaving the field early against Ulster.“It was great fortitude from that man to get through what he got through.”With all three of those players emerging from Kingsholm unscathed, Penney’s options are looking good for the immediate future. Andrew Conway [groin] is back in training this week, while Donnacha Ryan [knee] and Sean Dougall [ankle] have returned to “limited training”.“Yeah we’ve got some people coming back and have so over the last couple of weeks. So we’re getting more and more numbers around the tracks, which is pleasing enough.”Dave Kearney contract options still ‘up in the air’Simon Hick: French powers tightening their grip on European rugbylast_img