Monday 20 May 2019

Simon Zebo: Joe Schmidt hasn't curbed my attacking instincts

Declan Whooley

Ireland winger Simon Zebo is bracing himself for a stern test from the Italians in the Six Nations opener this weekend and is hoping to unleash his attacking instincts in Rome.

The Munster winger continues in the number eleven jersey in what is another vote of confidence from head coach Joe Schmidt.

Despite disappointing results from the Italian clubs in the Guinness PRO12, Zebo is expecting a difficult encounter in Rome.

"They are a very strong team," he admitted at Carton House today. "Even though their club sides haven't been doing too well, when they come together they are always a dangerous side with world class players in their squad."

The fearsome Italian pack is generally the hallmark of the Azzurri but Zebo is aware of the attacking threats the home side will pose out wide.

"They have some dangerous runners," he admitted.

"[Michele] Campagnaro and [Leonardo] Sarto showed last year how dangerous he is. We're going to have to make sure they don't get too much space."

Schmidt has again chosen Zebo in a back three along with Rob Kearney and Tommy Bowe and the 24 year-old says it is a learning experience playing alongside such "world class operators."

The Cork native did not play any part in last year's Six Nations championship – Zebo wasn't even selected in any match-day squad – and many questioned whether Schmidt had enough trust in the flamboyant back at Test level.

The 11-cap international however has forced his way very much into the reckoning but he rejects the notion that he has had to curb his attacking instincts to make the starting fifteen.

"No, no, no, not at all," he confirmed.

"I just go out and play every game as best I can and do whatever I can for the team and whether that is a last ditch tackle or a line break that doesn't matter. Each player just wants to benefit the team and that is the great thing about the side is really playing for each other."

"If one person gets a bit of limelight, we know someone else did the dirty job."

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