Munster have been rocked with news that Simon Zebo is to leave the club at the end of the season.
The Corkman’s contract is up at end of the year and rather than sign a new one with the southern province he has made the decision to move on.
His exact destination has not been revealed yet but France looks the obvious place of choice with Ronan O’Gara’s Racing Metro top of the list where former player Donnacha Ryan also plies his trade
Zebo’s father hails from France so any move there would not be beyond the realms of possibility.
The move to France is also likely to bring an end to the wingers hopes of making the Irish World cup squad as current policy doesn’t allowed players based abroad to be picked for selection.
Speaking on the news Munster Ceo Garrett Fitzgerald revealed his disappointment at the news.
“Working closely with the IRFU we put ourselves in the best position possible with an excellent offer, and while we are largely successful in retaining our best players within the Irish system we know it is out of our hands on this occasion”.
“We are hugely disappointed to see Simon leave but we wish to thank him for his immense contribution to the province and wish him and his family all the best for the future.”
Zebo also released a statement stating that the move is for family reasons but he will continue to do his best for the rest of the season.
“This club has moulded me into the player and person I am today and I will forever be grateful for that. It has always been my dream to play for my home club, wearing the red jersey while representing my family, friends and local community.
“However, I have always noted the draw to play abroad one day, and in not taking this decision lightly I have decided on what’s best for my family. With my partner Elvira and two young children, Jacob and Sofia, we are planning for our future and this is the right time for us to make the move.
“As much as I will miss everything about this place – the players, staff, supporters and friends for life – I know there are many more special nights in Thomond Park and Irish Independent Park to be had. I will continue to enjoy wearing my jersey with pride and will give my all in making sure Munster are successful this season.”
So will this lead to an Irish player exodus, Donal Lenihan doesn’t expect huge numbers departing these shores for pastures new.
“There’ll be certain players who will be attractive to the French clubs for obvious reasons, but I don’t see a massive exodus from Ireland,” he said..
“You look at the big names who have gone in the past; Sexton went to Racing for two years, it didn’t work out particularly well for him, Ian Madigan went to Bordeaux but got out of his contract after a year to go to Bristol, so the examples of those show it doesn’t work out for everyone.”