'I wasn't going to put my life on hold for the World Cup' - Simon Zebo explains why he moved to France before 2019
Simon Zebo says that the decision to join Racing 92 before the 2019 World Cup was 'a life decision, a family decision and a rugby decision built all into one'.
The talented back three star was dropped from the Ireland squad after his move to Paris was announced before the autumn internationals, with the IRFU policy on selecting overseas players making it unlikely that Zebo will get a recall ahead of the showpiece tournament in Japan next year.
Departing just one season out from the World Cup has already cost the 28-year-old dearly, with Zebo missing out on the Six Nations Grand Slam earlier this year.
However, speaking to the Left Wing, Independent.ie's rugby podcast in association with Laya Healthcare, the ex-Munster player explained that his move to Racing was about putting his family first, as he gave his reasons for moving abroad so close to the World Cup.
"I don't think that was an option," Zebo said of the possibility of signing a one-year deal to play in the World Cup, after which he could have moved to France.
"I was mulling over my decision for years. I kept signing because I wanted play for Munster and Ireland as much as possible but when the opportunity came around, and my kids are at the age that they are, I wasn't going to put my life on hold for the World Cup when I've two young kids and a partner to look after.
"The World Cup is obviously a massive, massive goal for me and I'm going to do everything I can to be there and help Ireland achieve something but I wasn't going to put my life on hold again just to achieve that. If I hadn't played in a World Cup before then maybe it would have bee different. This was a life decision, a family decision and a rugby decision built all into one and I didn't want to miss the opportunity."
Although the chances of Zebo forcing his way back into Joe Schmidt's squad appears slim, Racing's new addition is still holding out some hope that he could take part in the tournament, point to the selection of Johnny Sexton in 2015 as precedent.
"If they were willing to do it for Johnny, then why not another player?," Zebo asked.
"The hope I have of playing in the World Cup shouldn't be completely dead. There's a tiny little match burning, that's probably the chance I have of going but it is a dream I'm holding on to. Hopefully if I play out of my skin I'll give myself every chance."