Wednesday 13 December 2017

'I'll do what is best for my family' - Simon Zebo relaxed over transfer rumours

Simon Zebo, pictured during training yesterday in Limerick, says he is in no rush to resolve his future
Simon Zebo, pictured during training yesterday in Limerick, says he is in no rush to resolve his future
David Kelly

David Kelly

"How are the Spanish lessons going, Zeebs?"

Munster's newest recruit, Argentinian World Cup star Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, has been giving the unsettled Irish star a few extra language lessons at work of late.

Not that he needs many; his partner, Elvira, is Spanish. "I'm not too bad," he smiles. "Not as good as the French though . . ."

It is not meant as a knowing aside; the family background, with which so many Ireland and Munster supporters have become familiar, naturally imbues in him a Francophone air.

Context is everything; there are no Spanish rugby super clubs; there are many of the French variety and it is to one of them it seems more than likely he will decamp next summer.

"I don't have a clue, I don't know," he replies, when asked will his future be decided before the Christmas decorations come down.

He seems entirely unagitated in his mood, without that necessarily removing the burden from the decision he must soon make.


"Once the people who are working for me, in trying to sort that out, come back to me and say here's what you have, then I will decide. Until then I don't know."

Context, again, is everything; before, he could decide just for himself. Free and easy, happy-go-lucky, come and go as he pleases. Now, he and Elvira have Jacob to contend with. Such factors dramatically alter all parameters.

"It is not just me so I can't be selfish," the 25-year-old, surely in the prime of his professional career, readily agrees. "There are a lot of things going to come into play. Hopefully soon enough we will be able to make a decision, and cross that bridge then."

Before he leaves, he is guided around the same question in a different way when probed as to the consequences of a proposed move on his international ambitions, lately scarred yet again, it would seem, by a curious lack of trust at the highest level. Skirting the subjective politics of that particular debate, he simply reaffirms that his career now revolves around his family and not the other way around.

"I think first and foremost the decision will be based around myself and my family so it's not going to be a selfish one where I say, 'Oh I need to go for this… or I need to go for this.' I think it is going to be what is going to be best for my family and what I want to do for the next couple of years so it's hard to say about that. But we'll see."

As much as the speculation is angering many of his supporters, he remains remarkably reserved, as typifies his laconic lineage.

Just as you suspect the IRFU are hardly putting a gun to his head, the player himself, who seemingly has a selection of Top 14 clubs to choose from, is so relaxed he could be conducting the interview from a hammock.

"It wouldn't bother me too much," he shrugs when asked when he would like his future to be resolved. "I think whatever is best for me and my family, at the end of the day, once everything is known, then it will be easier to make my decision."

And still more context intervenes; Munster still means so much to him and, even though defeat this weekend would leave his side facing a second successive premature European exit, victory at the beginning of a definitive month could be, well, defining.

The jersey he will wear on Saturday night will always retain its value.

"Yeah, Jesus, yeah. Munster will always, always mean a lot to me. It's my childhood club. I have supported Munster all of my life. It always will mean a great deal to me."

So far, so good. And yet, as much as he declares his love for Munster, he has yet to declare his undying commitment to them. His head will not rule his heart; nor, however, will it be silenced.

"At the end of the day, rugby is a business and you can't get swallowed up. You have to look after yourself, and know what's best for you and your family. Hopefully everything works out the way I would like it to. We will see what happens."

It is fanciful to suggest that a thumping success against Leicester home and away, followed by a seamless continuation of the run against Ulster and Leinster, would persuade him to stay; then again, if the reverse streak were to happen, would it necessarily budge him from any intention to move?

Still, Munster fans can only hope.

"They are the special nights, special times as a rugby player," says Zebo, never far from indulging his romantic side. "They are impossible to replicate elsewhere. These are the nights where you really enjoy being a professional rugby player.

"You'd be very grateful when you get to play in front of a sold-out Thomond Park. It is going to be a special night. Hopefully we can make it a good one, and win it."

Only he knows if he will be around for many more of them.

Irish Independent

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