Simon Zebo: Ireland star leaving Munster to play abroad

Simon Zebo celebrates after Munster's European Champions Cup win over Racing 92 at Thomond Park on Saturday
Simon Zebo celebrates after Munster's European Champions Cup win over Racing 92 at Thomond Park on Saturday

Ireland wing Simon Zebo is to leave Munster at the end of the season.

It is not yet known which club the 27-year-old is joining after attracting the interest of several European sides.

Munster and the IRFU have been unable to match their offers with Munster Chief Executive Garrett Fitzgerald admitting the decision is "out of our hands on this occasion".

Zebo said he "always noted the draw to play abroad" and has made the decision in the best interests of his family.

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France is certain to be Zebo's destination with Racing 92, against whom he played in Munster's European Champions Cup home win on Saturday, believed to be among the front-runners.

Zebo, who can also play full-back, has played 124 times for Munster since making his debut in 2010.

Munster claim they made "every effort" to retain the player and made "substantial improvements" to his existing contract, but ultimately were unable to match the lucrative deals on the table.

"Working closely with the IRFU we put ourselves in the best position possible with an excellent offer, and while we are largely successful in retaining our best players within the Irish system we know it is out of our hands on this occasion," Fitzgerald said.

"We are hugely disappointed to see Simon leave but we wish to thank him for his immense contribution to the province and wish him and his family all the best for the future."

Still answering Ireland's call?

Zebo is Munster's leading try-scorer with 55 and has played for Ireland 35 times, touring with the British and Irish Lions in Australia in 2013.

There will be huge interest in how Ireland coach Joe Schmidt and the IRFU handle his move abroad, with a likelihood it will curtail his international opportunities.

"With my partner Elvira and two young children, Jacob and Sofia, we are planning for our future and this is the right time for us to make the move," Zebo said.

"As much as I will miss everything about this place - the players, staff, supporters and friends for life - I know there are many more special nights in Thomond Park and Irish Independent Park to be had.

"I will continue to enjoy wearing my jersey with pride and will give my all in making sure Munster are successful this season."

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