Graig Gilroy and Simon Zebo add power to Ireland strike force

Ulster's Craig Gilroy
Ulster's Craig Gilroy

Wingers Simon Zebo and Craig Gilroy will significantly boost Ireland’s RBS Six Nations strike power after the fit-again pair joined Joe Schmidt’s squad on Monday.

Munster flyer Zebo has found fitness after a foot injury sustained in October just in time for the Six Nations.

Gilroy suffered a suspected concussion in Ulster’s 27-16 victory over Montpellier in the Heineken Cup on January 10.

Both finishers are working back to fitness, though, doing enough for head coach Schmidt to draft them into his championship training squad.

Munster’s Keith Earls remains a doubt after suffering a knee injury against Edinburgh in European action at the weekend.

The centre will undergo further scans before the Ireland management can determine the extent of his blow.

Ireland will start their Six Nations campaign by hosting Scotland at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Sunday, February 2.

Meanwhile, Paul O’Connell has rejected the lure of a move to France to sign a two-year central contract to stay with Munster until 2016.

The 34-year-old lock should now complete his career at his home province, and his new deal cements his ambitions to captain Ireland at Rugby World Cup 2015.

O’Connell is the latest Ireland star to spurn a move to the French Top 14 after Sean O’Brien rejected a lucrative offer from Toulon.

Number eight Jamie Heaslip remains the Irish Rugby Football Union’s chief target to tie down to a new contract, the 30-year-old having fielded offers from Toulon and Montpellier.

“I am delighted to sign a new IRFU contract and to continue playing with Munster for the next two seasons,” said O’Connell.

“Over the years I have been privileged to play in many fantastic Munster sides and as we build for the future I am excited by the prospect of playing my part in achieving success with Munster and Ireland in the coming seasons.”