Zebo called up to Lions squad

Ireland back Simon Zebo has been called up to the British and Irish Lions squad as a replacement for the injured Tommy Bowe after playing against the US Eagles in Houston last night.

Zebo called up to Lions squad

Ireland back Simon Zebo has been called up to the British and Irish Lions squad as a replacement for the injured Tommy Bowe after playing against the US Eagles in Houston last night.

"Ireland's Simon Zebo will join the British and Irish Lions as cover for Tommy Bowe," read an official statement.

"Zebo will fly from Houston, Texas on Sunday evening and arrive in Sydney on Tuesday morning, meeting up with the squad in Newcastle ahead of the game against Combined Country.

"Bowe underwent surgery this morning to stabilise a bone fracture in his hand and his condition will be assessed over the next few days."

The Cork wing had spoken of his disappointment of missing out on the initial selection, but he could capitalise on the misfortune of Bowe after the Ulster wing broke a bone in his hand against the Queensland Reds yesterday.

Lions coach Warren Gatland and his staff were forced into discussions about a replacement for Bowe, who has since had an operation on his hand and could still feature, with 23-year-old Zebo appearing to have received the nod ahead of a selection from England trio Mike Brown, Ben Foden and Christian Wade.

Leinster wing Rob Kearney is another covering option currently in the Lions squad, although the 27-year-old is yet to feature in the Southern Hemisphere due to a hamstring injury.

Zebo played for 75 minutes in Ireland's hard-fought 15-12 win over the States before being replaced by Felix Jones.

It was his sixth cap for his country and his first since a Six Nations defeat to England.

He will depart Texas for Australia tonight after receiving a phone call from tour manager Guy Richardson when he arrived back to Ireland's team base after the game.

"I heard this morning that Tommy had an injury on one of the social media sites so I just had to stay focused and keep myself away from it, just try and go out and play well tonight. We got the win which was very important to us," he said late on Saturday night.

"I'm absolutely over the moon. It is the best news I could ever have dreamed of.

"As a professional (Irish) rugby player the ultimate goal is to be a British and Irish Lion. Hopefully I'll get the chance to do that if I get my cap. That is something I have to work towards now."

The Corkman admitted that the foot injury that ended his Six Nations campaign had derailed his Lions ambitions, but believes he has overcome that disappointment and is ready to hit the ground running Down Under.

"It was a bit of a hiccup but I only missed a couple of games, I was only out for six weeks in the end but I suppose the lack of international game time was a little bit of a set-back," he said.

"But that's all in the past now. Exciting times ahead, hopefully."

There is still a degree of optimism in the Lions camp that Bowe could recover quickly and possibly be involved in the Test series against Australia.

"We just want to see how the operation goes," Gatland said earlier today.

"The surgeon who spoke to him said that if everything goes all right it could be just a couple of weeks. Once the plate is put in, the bones are fixed, basically."

Bowe's blistering form suggests he would have been a shoo-in selection for the opening Test on June 22, but although that game now appears beyond him, the second Wallabies encounter a week later could conceivably feature on Gatland's selection radar.

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox