Monday 22 July 2019

Video: Simon Zebo 'excited' by Joe Schmidt's kick-chase game plan

Declan Whooley

It has been argued by some that while Ireland's kick-chase game plan is highly effective, it is not maximising Ireland's creative threat and presumably less enjoyable for those involved.

Not so says winger Simon Zebo, who maintains that the team takes as much enjoyment from the less glamorous side of the game as free-flowing rugby involving the fleet-footed backline.

The Munster winger didn't figure in any match-day squad last season as Joe Schmidt weaved his magic wand at international level with Ireland claiming the championship on a dramatic final day in Paris.

Critics at the time pointed to the Cork native's failure to improve the defensive aspect of his game as the main reason for his absence, but last November he demonstrated that he has the capabilities to slot into Schmidt's meticulous game plan. The try against the Wallabies will have given last year's forgotten man a great deal of satisfaction.

Tommy Bowe gave a master class against the French with his aerial supremacy a feature of the game. Zebo too is formidable in the air and one crunching tackle towards the end of the 80 minutes, where he came in off his line to take man and ball, was further proof of the development of the 23 year-old's game.

With the praise heaped on Ireland's miserly defence, 14 points conceded, and the backs failing to get over the try line thus far, Zebo was asked at Carton House whether he gets more satisfaction from collecting high balls rather than finding space and sidestepping opponents.

"No, if I'm being honest," he uttered with a wry smile. "I get satisfaction out of the team doing well.

"The reason I stared rugby was the excitement I get out of those things like putting someone into space and scoring tries. At the end of the game if we win and I know a couple of slap-backs or regaining a high ball is gone along to winning the game, I'll be twice as happy as scoring a try."

Supporters have lamented the fact that the back three of Zebo, Tommy Bowe and Rob Kearney haven't been able to showcase their undoubted attacking skills.

The Munster winger however dismisses the notion that the game-plan is not enjoyable for those on the pitch executing team instructions.

"It would probably be seen as one of the more mundane aspects of the game for Tommy or myself or the centres, but it's something we get excited for," he said.

"When we see the lift the team gets from Tommy slapping the ball back on our side and getting momentum and pushing on and getting scores that what we are doing it for. That is the collective"

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