Munster set to sign Lyon’s Thaakir Abrahams as they focus on upcoming Ulster clash

Former South African under-20 seen as direct replacement for Simon Zebo, who is retiring at end of season

Munster are set to announce the signing of former South African under-20 Thaakir Abrahams in the coming days after completing a deal with Lyon to secure an early release from his contract.

The 24-year-old wing and full-back is being viewed as the direct replacement for Simon Zebo, who announced last week that he is retiring at the end of this season.

Munster attack coach Mike Prendergast said they have been aware of Abrahams from his performances for the Sharks in the URC.

“We’d have known him from URC as well, playing with the Sharks then went on to Lyon in the Top 14 last year,” said Prendergast.

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“He’s a wonderful player. He’s electric – really, really good footwork. Very quick, elusive, got that X-factor ability about him.

“Look, we are in the market for a back-three player. As of the moment, can’t confirm anything but the news I’m sure will be out sooner than later.”

Prendergast paid tribute to Zebo, who he also coached at Racing 92, and said the departure of the Cork native will leave a void in the dressing room and on the field.

“Simon, what a guy. I was fortunate to work with him in France with Racing and then to come home here. A brilliant rugby player, a brilliant character and he sees things on the pitch. He’s the highest try-scorer in the club, something that speaks for itself, and he’s someone we will miss around the place, absolutely.

“But great memories and thoroughly enjoyed working with him and coaching him over the last number of years,” added Prendergast.

His main focus at the moment is on Munster’s final URC game before the play-offs when they entertain Ulster at Thomond Park on Saturday, knowing that a win will secure top spot in the table after winning all eight league games since their New Year’s Day loss to Connacht.

They reversed that result against Connacht with a 47-12 thumping at Thomond Park but that was their first derby win of the season and they are hoping to add another when Richie Murphy’s men come to Limerick this weekend.

Centre Antoine Frisch, who is heading to Toulon at the end of the season, remains doubtful with a leg injury, but they are waiting to see if he recovers.

“He did a bit of running over the last day or two but we’re going to give him an extra day or so to see how he gets on. Going into Thursday we’ll see how he is. As of now, we’re unsure.”

His centre partner Alex Nankivell has been ruled out but Prendergast is hoping he will be fit for the quarter-finals the following weekend.

“It’s pretty much up in the air, very much day by day, week by week. He is improving, but it’s probably too early to call it yet, being honest with you, and having two of the boys out isn’t ideal but, in saying that, we have good depth there.

“We saw it with Rory Scannell, coming on against Edinburgh, he had a fine game, I thought. And Seán O’Brien has played a lot of rugby this year and I know he’s been on the wing but any time he’s played in the midfield for us, which is his natural position, he’s come out on top there.

“So if the boys get through they get through it. If they don’t we have the next man up. We’ve been kind of used to that this year and the two lads that are due to come in if it happens that way are both in good form at the moment, thankfully.”