Rugby Union

Munster persuade Simon Zebo to ditch planned move to France and sign new deal

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Munster have convinced Simon Zebo to abandon plans for a switch to France, with the Ireland flyer committing his future to Thomond Park until June 2018.

Zebo's new two-year deal ends his serious and prolonged flirtation with a move to France's Top 14, and further boosts Munster after last week's new terms for Keith Earls and Conor Murray.

The 25-year-old had been locked in negotiations over a new contract for months, and his decision to remain on home shores is also another boon for Ireland's head coach Joe Schmidt.

Last week centre Earls rejected Saracens' advances and scrum-half Murray sealed a new deal to boot, both men completing three-year dual deals with the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU).

"Simon's record speaks for itself and keeping a player with his experience and versatility is key to our plans going forward," said Munster head coach Anthony Foley.

"We are delighted that he has committed his future to Munster.

"It's great to have even more good news on the contract front."

Zebo's new Munster deal provides further vindication for Ireland head coach Schmidt last week rubbishing claims of a mass player-drain.

Leinster's Marty Moore will join Wasps this summer with fly-half Ian Madigan off to Bordeaux, but Schmidt took exception to the use of the term 'exodus'.

Now the former Leinster coach's bullish words have been backed up by Munster securing new terms for their three most in-demand stars.

"I've seen the word 'exodus' used a number of times, I've read the book by Leon Uris along with another Leon Uris title," said Schmidt last week.

"It defies the dictionary definition of 'exodus'.

"There's always concern when we lose the opportunity to manage that player.

"We get the training volume from the provinces, we know their strength and conditioning programmes, their total training minutes."

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