Monday 23 September 2019

'They beat the crap out of us, it was pretty embarrassing' - Simon Zebo not impressed with Ireland loss

Simon Zebo during his time in Ireland camp. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Simon Zebo during his time in Ireland camp. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile Newsdesk Newsdesk

Simon Zebo says Ireland's defeat to England was 'pretty embarrassing' but is still backing Joe Schmidt's men to have a good World Cup.

The Racing 92 star has been in international exile since announcing his move to Paris before the 2017 autumn tests, and Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has thus far resisted the calls to pick Zebo despite many people calling for his inclusion.

It has been a tough start to the World Cup warm-up period for the Irish side, losing Joey Carbery to injury against Italy before being thrashed in a humiliating outing against England in Twickenham last weekend.

Talking to Paddy Power News, Zebo gave a blunt assessment of Ireland's performance against Eddie Jones' side.

"To perform like Ireland have hasn't been hugely exciting or encouraging," Zebo said.

"Against England, they seemed a bit off. You can say they were undercooked, but it's a test match in England and in the week leading up to the game nobody would have been saying they were undercooked.

"It just has to go down as a bad performance – and let's not forget England played really well. It was similar to the game in the Aviva during the Six Nations – they just beat the crap out of us, basically.

"It was disappointing. They were running in tries way too easily, and first-phase tries as well, which are pretty ball-breaking if you're a forward getting up from the scrum and the next thing you have to do is get under the posts and wait for the conversion.

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"That rarely happens to Ireland. I don't think it's a system thing. Andy Farrell's one of the best coaches I've ever worked with – he’s incredibly detailed and he knows his job inside out. The players probably need to take ownership, they've just taken 60 points off a team you shouldn't need motivation to play against. It was pretty embarrassing."

However, despite recent results, Zebo thinks that Joe Schmidt and the squad can regroup, and says that Scotland's form means that Ireland won't fear them.

"I don't think the situation is as bad as it looks from the outside," he added.

"I've been in the camp after losses and you're in a bubble in Carton House and your training environment. You still read the papers but nobody talks about the external noise, so whether people are saying either "Ireland are going to win the World Cup" or "Ireland won't make it out of the group", the players won't be listening.

"Joe definitely prefers having the underdog tag. He tends to talk about it the odd time, so he won't mind that. But teams like New Zealand and South Africa, against whom you're potentially looking to face in the quarter-finals, they won't fear Ireland at all, especially now that Felix Jones is with the Springboks. He knows Joe inside out.

"There will be a lot more hurdles to jump if we're to have a successful campaign, so it's about getting back on the horse this weekend, putting in a good performance and trying to regain momentum ahead of the tournament.

"Our first World Cup game is against Scotland and they've looked pretty bad so far. They got a hiding from the French in Nice and didn't impress in the return fixture, despite winning. So the door's still wide open for us to have a good World Cup."

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