SIMON ZEBO is confident he can force his way into the Lions Test side for the opening game against Australia next Saturday.
The Munster and Ireland winger has been told by Lions coach Warren Gatland to make the most of the chance being afforded him and he has every intention of taking him at his word when he lines out against the NSW Waratahs today.
"Of course I can force my way into the Test team, why not?" he confidently responded when the question was asked of him.
"It's a game of rugby. I'll do what I do every time I play. That's enjoy myself, have fun playing rugby and, if any player goes out, puts his best foot forward and shows what he's able to do then he's got a chance.
"If I go out and have a great game then I'll surely be in with a shout of making the Test team... happy out!"
Zebo admits to being deeply disappointed when he was overlooked for the initial squad but is determined to take today's opportunity and make up for lost time and his easy smile belies his obvious focus and determination.
He has blown through the Lions camp with the subtlety of a tsunami. His easy-going demeanour and constant search for laughter have been a welcome addition to the tourists' party but he is quick to insist that there is more to his game and his personality than just that.
Indeed there was one moment when he bristled slightly at the suggestion that his career exploded with that one flick of his heel against Wales.
"I didn't think that was a big deal," he said. "I wouldn't focus too much on that. There's a lot of other aspects to my game."
"At that time I was already well used to international rugby. It was my Six Nations debut, but I had played against the All Blacks, Fiji, Argentina, South Africa. It wasn't my first game. I felt comfortable with international rugby at that stage.
"Make of that what you will, but I wouldn't say it was my breakthrough or anything like that," he added.
Zebo's confidence is one of the more potent weapons in his arsenal. He is also a deadly finisher and has shown an ability to step up levels as he's encountered them in his career. This next level is his steepest climb yet but, as ever, he's backing himself.
"There's an opportunity there now for me to show what I can do in a Lions shirt.
"Hopefully, it goes well; that collectively we put in a performance that secures the win and, personally, if I can play well, maybe I'll be in with a shout for a week's time!"