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Zebo receives Lions call

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

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

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.

Zebo played for 75 minutes in Ireland's hard-fought 15-12 win over the United 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 on Sunday night 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 he 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 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. "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."


From Belfast Telegraph