O’Gara in line for Munster return

RONAN O’Gara is in line to feature for Munster in their RaboDirect PRO12 clash with the Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday (6.30pm).

RONAN O’Gara is in line to feature for Munster in their RaboDirect PRO12 clash with the Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday (6.30pm).

The vastly experienced O’Gara came on as a first half replacement for Ireland in Sunday’s disappointing RBS Six Nations defeat to England after Jonathan Sexton was forced off with a hamstring injury.

While Sexton remains an injury doubt for the Six Nations clash with Scotland on Sunday week, the Irish management team may well opt to make O’Gara available for Munster this weekend in order to give the 35-year-old valuable game-time ahead of the trip to Murrayfield.

O’Gara joined up with his Munster team mates for a squad training session in UL yesterday as the province’s focus switches to this weekend’s crucial clash with the Scarlets, live on RTE2.

Munster head coach, Rob Penney said: “I think Ronan is someone who would be keen to get some footie and we will just get the word from up above (Ireland camp) and as we always do, if the Irish boys need footie and want to play, they will be selected.”

Penney is unsure whether flying winger Simon Zebo will be available for Munster’s Heineken Cup quarter-final clash with Harlequins at the start of April after breaking a bone in his foot playing for Ireland at the weekend. The Munster coach believes the injury will not rule Zebo out of contention for Lions selection, however.

“Sport can be cruel. But he is young and resilient,” Penney said.

“Simon will bounce back. It is not fatal. The other side of the ledger is that it is a long season. There is still a lot of footie to be played. He will bounce back. That won’t be too much of a hurdle for him.

“It is disappointing at this moment, but long-term it’s not an issue.”

“I wouldn’t venture to guess whether Simon (Zebo) would be available for the Heineken Cup quarter-final. It is too tough. We have been told 10 weeks which would make him unavailable.”

“I have flicked through a couple of text messages with him, but haven’t spoken to him. He will be inundated. I just wished him all the best for the operation.

“I think there is plenty of football for him to prove himself (to the Lions selection team).

“I think he has already proved himself as being one of the best wingers in Europe. I am sure that they will be keen to take him. That would be my guess.

“I would take him.”

Both team captain Doug Howlett and winger Felix Jones – who underwent minor knee surgery recently – are unlikely to feature against the Scarlets this weekend.

Centre Casey Laulala, who missed last weekend’s victory over Edinburgh as he attended his brother’s wedding in New Zealand, will be available for selection. Utility back Luke O’Dea could feature for Shannon in their AIL clash with Clontarf on Saturday as he works his way back to full fitness.