Sunday 17 November 2019

Zebo open to Ireland return under new coach Farrell

 

Simon Zebo. Photo: BY DAVID FITZGERALD/SPORTSFILE
Simon Zebo. Photo: BY DAVID FITZGERALD/SPORTSFILE
David Kelly

David Kelly

Exiled Ireland wing Simon Zebo has made the first move in an unlikely bid to return to the international fold - although incoming head coach Andy Farrell is not expected to open a door slammed shut by predecessor Joe Schmidt.

Zebo lost his place in the Irish squad when announcing his intention to sign for French Top 14 side Racing 92 two years ago.

Schmidt then persisted with an unwritten IRFU policy that bars players who pursue careers overseas from maintaining their international status - albeit Johnny Sexton combined a two-year stint at the same club with his Irish career.

Despite completing a season with Munster, Zebo was omitted from all of Schmidt's squads in the 2017/'18 campaign and a host of former internationals have regularly called for his repatriation to a side which lacked cutting edge in the final year of the Kiwi's reign.

"I'd definitely pick up the phone to Andy if I got a call," said Zebo, who has won 35 caps for Ireland.

Departed

"As for where I stand now Joe Schmidt has departed, I haven't been in contact with anyone in the Irish set-up really.

"If something happens in the future, great. If it doesn't, it's not the end of the world. But I have a very good relationship with Andy.

"He might have a different view on players playing abroad than Joe and, if he decides to give me a call, I would of course look at coming back and being available."

Zebo regularly clashed with Schmidt in terms of the international team's style of play and the Corkman reiterated these views following Ireland's crushing defeat to New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final last weekend.

"Ireland haven't made the same adjustments or improvements like New Zealand or Japan," insisted Zebo, who was speaking exclusively to Paddy Power News.

Irish Independent

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