Wednesday 25 April 2018

'If I wasn't able to compete or didn't think I was good enough it'd just go over my head' - Zebo opens up on Ireland exile

 

Simon Zebo in action against Munster and (left) with Ireland coach Joe Schmidt
Simon Zebo in action against Munster and (left) with Ireland coach Joe Schmidt
Munster’s Simon Zebo pauses for a breather during last night’s PRO14 clash at the Sportsground. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Simon Zebo says he has no regrets over his decision to leave Munster and Ireland behind for France next season.

The full-back scored a try for his province in their 20-16 defeat to Connacht last night and afterwards said he still feels he is good enough to play for his country after being left out of Joe Schmidt's squad this week.

Zebo explained that Schmidt had explained his reasons for excluding him, but admitted he was disappointed to miss out.

"I spoke to Joe and he explained his reasons around it," he said. "You know that could potentially happen, but it's never easy when you're not involved.

"If I wasn't able to compete or didn't think I was good enough it'd just go over my head, but it's a level I should be at and I've proven I should be at it and that's why it's disappointing.

"I wouldn't say regret, because I decided to be in that position.

"Playing for Munster is a dream of mine since I was a child, playing for Ireland was a dream and playing for the Lions and so has playing in France.

"I've French family, I'm half-French and I like the way the rugby is played there. So it was an obvious fit for me to go and experience.

Munster’s Andrew Conway, centre, receives a red card from referee Nigel Owens during their defeat to Connacht at the Sportsground in Galway last night. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Munster’s Andrew Conway, centre, receives a red card from referee Nigel Owens during their defeat to Connacht at the Sportsground in Galway last night. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

"It's a very short career, so I wasn't going to let it go by without doing it.

"At least I've the balls to do it and I won't shirk away from a challenge. I won't look back on my career with any regret."

Racing 92 is his expected destination and, although Ronan O'Gara muddied the waters by saying the winger has his pick of four French clubs, Zebo said he has one in mind.

"That's a big decision. I know where I'll probably end up, but until something is in place or announced I can't really comment on it," he told RTé.

"It was one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make in my life, I want to attack and experience it."

Munster coach Rassie Erasmus admitted losing Zebo was a big disappointment but said he did not begrudge the winger accepting a significant offer to join Racing.

"It is a professional game, it is nobody's fault," he said.

"We just can't afford that and he can't say no to an offer like that. Nobody is upset with him and you see tonight he is fully committed to the cause."

Schmidt could yet have to call on Zebo or Tiernan O'Halloran if Andrew Conway receives a suspension after receiving a red card in last night's game for a late, high challenge on Connacht's Jack Carty.

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