McGahan sees future Lions in young Reds

Simon Zebo: Unfortunate not to be joining Munster team-mates on the plane heading Down Under.

Former Munster head coach Tony McGahan has backed Simon Zebo, Peter O’Mahony and the province’s other young guns he helped to develop to follow Conor Murray as British & Irish Lions of the future.

McGahan left Munster at the end of last season to return home to Australia and take up a role with the ARU as coaching co-ordinator and serve on Robbie Deans’ Wallabies coaching staff. His time at Munster saw him begin the transition in player personnel from the double Heineken Cup winners to the next generation and he handed Murray, Zebo and O’Mahony, amongst others, their first competitive caps with the province.

As well as speaking with pride about Murray’s elevation to Warren Gatland’s Lions squad this summer alongside his former captain Paul O’Connell, McGahan told the Irish Examiner he felt Zebo, O’Mahony and Donnacha Ryan could count themselves unfortunate not to be joining their team-mates on the plane heading Down Under.

“There was always going to be guys in the 50/50 zone and certainly from an Irish perspective I thought Rory Best, Simon Zebo, Peter O’Mahony and Donnacha Ryan were probably unlucky in that quest to get into the Lions squad to come out,” McGahan said.

“But overall they’ve picked a squad on form and capable of getting into a game plan that Warren and the other coaches have come up with.

“For Conor to get his place, it’s been absolutely terrific, the way he’s handled himself as well. It’s one thing getting out and playing rugby, but there’s a lot of other things that go with that; added expectation and continuing to improve and work on your game, and he’s been able to do that.

“And then Simon and Peter O’Mahony, those two guys could have easily been on the plane as well and then you have the emergence this year of Dave Kilcoyne and Stephen Archer and all those guys. It’s great to see them making their mark, certainly at Munster level first and then hopefully international level and then go on to something like the Lions. I think the next Lions tour in 2017 we’ll see a few more of those young men on it, but I’m delighted for Conor.”


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