Wednesday 11 December 2019

Zebo 'excited' by Thomond return after special delivery

Racing 92's Simon Zebo. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Racing 92's Simon Zebo. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

John Fallon

Simon Zebo says it will be surreal coming back to Thomond Park with Racing 92 to take on Munster next Saturday, but he relishes facing his old team-mates.

Zebo, who made 144 appearances for Munster and scored 60 tries, returns to the Limerick venue hoping to oust his native province as the two sides try to build on their bonus-point wins on the opening weekend of the Champions Cup.

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"It will be a special occasion. I suppose it was probably inevitable that we would clash at some stage but it is still very fresh. It's not that long since I left," said Zebo.

"It will be very, very exciting playing against my friends in front of the supporters who I grew up playing in front of. It will be great seeing a few friendly faces."

It's been a hectic week for Zebo, whose partner Elvira Fernandez has given birth to the couple's third child, a baby boy named Noah Anthony Fernandez Zebo. The new arrival was announced by the player via Twitter yesterday.

Zebo, speaking before his son's birth, said: "I had quite a hectic week this week so I didn't get much minutes under my belt. Hopefully I can put my hand up and go out there and enjoy myself in Thomond Park."

Switch

The Corkman made 35 appearances for Ireland but was cast aside by Joe Schmidt two years ago when it was announced that he was leaving Munster for France.

He knew the consequences of his switch and performing for Racing became his primary concern. He scored 16 tries in 26 appearances in his first campaign to become a crowd favourite at the Paris La Defense Arena.

Getting game-time in a star-studded squad is the 29-year-old's priority right now, but if the good performances continue and a call comes from Andy Farrell, he won't be found wanting.

"You never know. I will just keep playing my best rugby. Last season was my first season over in Paris. I was playing pretty good rugby. So hopefully now that we have all of our internationals back from the World Cup we can get back into the swing of things.

"If I play well then the rest takes care of itself. I have had no dealings with Andy Farrell as head coach because he is just in. I have a very good relationship with him so it's not a case of whether it comes or not, I will not be disappointed, I am just going to keep enjoying my rugby. Andy is a great guy and a great coach."

Zebo got to know Farrell when he was called into the 2013 Lions squad and then when he was appointed Ireland defence coach.

"We built up a good relationship. If I get a call then I would love to be a part of it and if not I wish him all the best. And I have no doubt he will improve on what was a disappointing World Cup," added Zebo.

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