'He's good craic, good energy. I'm delighted it's generating excitement'

Simon Zebo is returning to Munster this summer.

Zebo is Munster's record top try-scorer
Zebo is Munster's record top try-scorer

MUNSTER ASSISTANT COACH Graham Rowntree says the province have been thrilled to hear of the positive reaction among supporters after the signing of Simon Zebo ahead of next season.

The 35-times capped Ireland international will return to his native province this summer after three seasons with Racing 92 in France.

Zebo’s one-year contract with Munster has been co-funded by the IRFU and the Cork man will be hoping to make a return for Ireland at Test level too.

After a mixed reaction to the addition of South African lock/blindside flanker Jason Jenkins, news of the return of Zebo has been greeted with widespread delight by Munster fans and Rowntree is excited to have the 31-year-old on board.

“I’ve worked with him before, I worked with him on the 2013 Lions,” said Rowntree this week.

“He’s good craic, has good energy. He’s a good professional. It’s great news.

“I’m delighted to hear that it’s generating excitement around the club and around the city.

“The club is certainly the club I thought it would be when I signed, it’s a great club and we just want to get better and win things. We want to do that for the fans.”

Even sooner than Zebo’s arrival, Munster will welcome back a fresh face in second row RG Snyman, who is nearing his return from the long-term knee injury he suffered on his debut last August.

The Springboks lock is expected to be back in squad training next week and should soon make his long-awaited return in the Rainbow Cup.

“I think it can only help our game,” said Rowntree of that impending boost. “He’s looking in good nick. He was hugely disappointed in his first game to get such a serious injury but he has trained hard and he’s back.”

Munster will hope Zebo, Jenkins, and Snyman can all make a big impact next season but they are aiming to finish the current campaign in good form too, with the Rainbow Cup kicking off tomorrow against familiar foes in Leinster.

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The recent Pro14 final defeat was another blow for Munster in this rivalry, but Rowntree isn’t getting caught up in the history.

“We’ve played them a lot over the last year and we’ve not beaten them,” he said. “We have to look at why that happens and what we can do better, it’s as simple as that and not build it up to be a psychological challenge – take from the game what we can do better.

“They’re a good team, aren’t they? A proven good team. Look at their performance down at Exeter… but we’re a good team as well.

“Trouble is, we’ve not given a good enough account of ourselves, particularly in that final, we know that and we look to build on our game. We’ve progressed our game nicely, particularly with Steve [Larkham]‘s input over the last 18 months, but we have to get that on the pitch and we’re acutely aware that we didn’t do that in the final, but we can only look forwards.”

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

Murray Kinsella, Bernard Jackman and Gavan Casey look at the bigger picture for Irish women’s rugby, the disconnect between the amateur and pro games, and the anticlimactic ‘northern’ Rainbow Cup.

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Murray Kinsella

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