Monday 26 February 2018

Ditched Zebo delivers a defiant Six Nations appeal to 'rigid' Schmidt

Speaking to ‘L’Equipe’, Zebo seemed to argue against his potential recall though by insisting that his style of play did not fit in with how the Kiwi coach sees the game. Photo: Sportsfile
Speaking to ‘L’Equipe’, Zebo seemed to argue against his potential recall though by insisting that his style of play did not fit in with how the Kiwi coach sees the game. Photo: Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Ditched Irish international Simon Zebo has questioned his exclusion from Joe Schmidt's squad this season and expressed the hope that he can still play a role in next month's Six Nations.

However, in a wide-ranging interview in the French press, as his current Munster side prepare to face his new employers Racing 92, the full-back has also outlined how he cannot play in Schmidt's "rigid" structure.

"There were players in this situation before me and they continued to be called up for Ireland," said Zebo.

"I would not understand if there's one rule for the others and another for me.

"I'm fully eligible because I'm a Munster player until June. I hope I'll be called up for the Six Nations.

"From the age of 19, I decided that I would play in France. It's true that Jonny Sexton was able to play for Ireland while he was playing in France. It wouldn't really make sense if I'm unable to be picked while I'm still playing with Munster."

Speaking to 'L'Equipe', Zebo (right) seemed to argue against his potential recall though by insisting that his style of play did not fit in with how the Kiwi coach sees the game.

"With Munster, I'm free to try things, to play the moves that I see. I don't have any shackles. Joe is a super coach who has had great success with Ireland.

"We already talked about it face-to-face. I said to him that I couldn't play in such a rigid structure. I can't play like that.

"Winning is important but for me it's also important to do it in a certain way. But if you ask me to pick between losing in style or winning ugly, I'd choose the second option.

"I wanted to come to a team that were at least as ambitious as Munster. I don't want to just be happy to live in France. I want to win titles - to have an impact in a winning team."

Schmidt will have to do without Sean O'Brien for the first two rounds of the Six Nations at least as the luckless flanker underwent a procedure on his troublesome hip.

It had been hoped he would have been available to play in Leinster's Champions Cup clash against Glasgow at the RDS tomorrow before this latest set-back.

"What changed was he went to see a specialist and they opted to readjust what the thought process was originally," said Leinster head coach Leo Cullen.

"He's OK, he's realistic enough. An injury can make liars out of us. You can say something is going to take two weeks and it can take two months.

"It is hard to be specific and say when you guys ask 'how long is it going to be?' I honestly don't know."

Garry Ringrose and James Tracy are already confirmed absentees for the first two games against France and Italy.

Irish Independent

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