Simon Zebo has potentially vaulted himself back into the Ireland reckoning ahead of the 2023 World Cup in France after he agreed to re-join Munster from Racing on a one-year deal, making him available next season to be chosen by the national team boss Andy Farrell.   

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It was October 2017 when Zebo announced he would be heading to the Top 14 and while the deal didn’t kick in until summer 2018, he was immediately omitted from the Ireland squad by then-coach Joe Schmidt.

Frustrated by his dealings with Racing when Johnny Sexton was with the Parisian club, Schmidt opted not to pick any overseas-based players once the IRFU managed to re-sign Sexton in 2015 and it was that ‘rule’ which left Zebo surplus to national team requirement since he earned the last of his 35 caps in June 2017. 

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Wales out-half and Lions selection hopeful Dan Biggar guests on RugbyPass All Access

The RugbyPass Offload co-host had spoken in recent times about his desire to get back involved with Ireland and had said on leaving Munster three years ago that it was his wish one day to rejoin the club. That has now come to pass, Zebo agreeing to a deal – co-funded by Munster and the IRFU – that will bring him back to Ireland in time for the 2021/22 Guinness PRO16 season.     

“I’m thrilled and honoured to be coming back home to play for Munster,” enthused Zebo. “My family and I have been so lucky to have enjoyed three incredible years with Racing 92 in Paris and I cannot thank the team there enough, I really have made friends for life and take with me some brilliant memories.

“However, as everyone knows, Munster holds a very special place in my heart and I’ve always said that I wanted to play for them and potentially Ireland again, so when this opportunity arose the lure of being close to home, family and friends and Munster fans, it outweighed all other options. I cannot wait to get back to the HPC with the team and hopefully a packed Thomond Park.”

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Munster boss Johann van Graan was delighted to re-capture the services of the club’s all-time record try-scorer, the 31-year-old scoring 60 tries in his 144 appearances between 2010 and 2018. “The opportunity to bring Simon back to Munster came about in early April following a final review of our squad’s budgetary position for season-end and with assistance from the IRFU to support what we believe is a really good deal for Munster and Irish rugby.

“Simon’s desire to return to Ireland and play with his home club is illustrated by his willingness to sign at a level below his market value elsewhere. This has made bringing the province’s all-time leading try-scorer back home possible.”

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