Alan Quinlan: Dropping Simon Zebo for Champions Cup semi-final would be 'brave call'

Munster legend Alan Quinlan says it would be a "brave call" to drop Simon Zebo for Sunday's Champions Cup semi-final against Racing 92 in Bordeaux.

Simon Lewis of the Irish Examiner reports the Corkman will move to the bench to make space for Keith Earls.

The Ireland winger has returned to training having recovered from the knee injury he suffered during the Grand Slam win over England.

The mercurial full-back, whose ability to bring X-factor to Munster’s attack saw Racing tempt the Corkman away from his home province for next season, has not played a full 80 minutes since February 23 having strained a hamstring against Edinburgh on March 16.

Zebo’s return for the quarter-final victory over Toulon a fortnight later was short-lived, the full-back taking a knock in the first minute in a collision with opposite number Chris Ashton before limping out 24 minutes later.

A return to the red jersey came in South Africa last Friday and having been sin-binned on 17 minutes for a professional foul against the Cheetahs, Zebo was called ashore by van Graan on 48 minutes, replaced at full-back by Ian Keatley.

Quinlan feels leaving Zebo out would be a bold move.

He said: "The speculation for me is about, where does Keith Earls go when he comes back.

I think it would be a brave call to take Zebo out, put Conway into full-back and put Earls and Wootton as your wingers.

"But you never know, you don't know what's going on in training, guys showing form, hunger, and Wootton, to be fair, has been very good for Munster."

Keatley is likely to start at fly-half this Sunday against Racing while the expected return of Grand Slam-winning Ireland wing Keith Earls to a wing berth following a knee injury may allow the Munster management some room for manoeuvre with quarter-final try-scoring hero Andrew Conway the leading candidate to start at full-back should Zebo be relegated to the bench.

That would leave a vacancy on the right wing with Alex Wootton or Darren Sweetnam in contention to start.


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