Winger Simon Zebo wouldn’t have wished an injury on his Ireland teammate Tommy Bowe, but now one has arrived he’ll be ready to take advantage.
Having been considered unfortunate by many to have missed out on the initial British & Irish Lions touring party for their trip to Australia, Zebo – the Irish Rugby Union Players Association’s player of the year – flew Down Under after playing for Ireland against the USA on Saturday.
Bowe maintains that he’ll be fit for the Lions’ second Test against Australia in Melbourne on June 29th having broken his hand in the win over Queensland Reds, but that creates a vacancy for the first Test in Brisbane that the 23-year-old Munster winger and some time full-back will be determined to fill.
With coach Warren Gatland confirming that Zebo will see game time in the two tour matches before the first Test, the 7/2 on offer for the Irishman to line up from the start at the Suncorp Stadium a week on Saturday could tempt many, as could the price of 6/1 for him to start on the wing.
Welsh wingers George North and Alex Cuthbert remain the overwhelming favourites to start the opening contest with the Aussies at 1/8 and 1/6 respectively. However, with a potential defensive weakness exposed in Cuthbert’s game when the Lions faced their toughest mach on tour so far against the Reds, Gatland may decide to turn to Zebo in Bowe’s absence.
It was against Wales that Zebo came to prominence in an Ireland shirt; scoring a debut try and setting up another for Lions teammate Cian Healy with a fine backheel flick in a 30-22 win over in Cardiff in the Six Nations in February.
That would have caught Gatland’s eye, and as the son of a French athlete, Zebo’s sprint finish towards first Test selection could yet prove successful.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publication