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Zebo, currently on tour with Ireland, will fly from Texas to meet up with the Lions squad in Sydney

Updated: Sunday, 09 Jun 2013 15:47 | Comments

Simon Zebo was in action for Ireland against the United States
Simon Zebo was in action for Ireland against the United States

Simon Zebo has been called into the Lions squad as cover for Tommy Bowe.

The Ireland winger will fly from Houston, Texas, this evening and arrive in Sydney on Tuesday morning, meeting up with the squad in Newcastle ahead of the game against Combined Country.

Bowe underwent surgery this morning to stabilise a bone fracture in his hand and his condition will be assessed over the next few days.

There is no suggestion, at this stage, that Bowe's tour is over.

"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," Zebo 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 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 in the Lions camp 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 earlier today.

"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."

Brian O'Driscoll will captain the Lions against a Combined Country XV in Newcastle on Tuesday.

England prop Alex Corbisiero, who only arrived in Brisbane yesterday from England's tour of Argentina, will make his Lions debut.

Corbisiero's fellow tour replacement Ryan Grant has been named on the bench, while Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg is handed fly-half duties.

Props Cian Healy (ankle ligaments) and Gethin Jenkins (calf muscle) are due to fly home today due to tour-ending injuries.

The line-up for Tuesday also includes Wales centre Jamie Roberts, England prop Dan Cole, Scotland lock Richie Gray and Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip.

Fly-half Jonathan Sexton meanwhile has had a scan on his hamstring after he reported tightness in it during the Reds game, but there are not thought to be any issues surrounding him.

"The Reds game was always going to be a big challenge, and I was delighted at the victory and the way we were tested," Lions head coach Warren Gatland said.

"It was a very physical match, as we knew it would be. We now move on to Newcastle and another challenge.

"This team to play Country includes three players - Richie Gray, Alex Cuthbert and Stuart Hogg - who are starting their second game in a row, plus another, George North, who came off the bench early against the Reds.

"This is the nature of Lions tours as we adapt to injuries and playing twice a week."

Lions manager Andy Irvine added: "We are delighted to have kept our unbeaten record intact.

"We were pushed all the way by an extremely skilful and committed Reds team that played some brilliant intuitive rugby.

"However, I was incredibly proud of the way we responded and how we defended right to the bitter end. The win will be a tremendous boost to our confidence for the forthcoming Test series.

"We are getting stronger each week, combinations are starting to take shape and we will be determined to head for Sydney next Saturday with another sound win."

Lions team to play a Combined Country XV in Newcastle on Tuesday:

S Maitland (Scotland); A Cuthbert (Wales), B O'Driscoll (Ireland, capt), J Roberts (Wales), G North (Wales); S Hogg (Scotland), C Murray (Ireland); A Corbisiero (England), R Hibbard (Wales), D Cole (England), R Gray (Scotland), I Evans (Wales), S O'Brien (Ireland), J Tipuric (Wales), J Heaslip (Ireland).

Replacements: R Best (Ireland), R Grant (Scotland), M Stevens (England), A-W Jones (Wales), T Faletau (Wales), M Phillips (Wales), J Davies (Wales), L Halfpenny (Wales).

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