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Dublin: 12 °C Friday 17 August, 2018
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'I know Simon from some parties! We look forward to having him'

Yannick Nyanga is excited to play with the Ireland international.

Murray Kinsella reports from Paris

WHILE SIMON ZEBO didn’t quite get to show his very best against Racing 92 yesterday, there were several moments where the class shone through.

The Munster fullback’s one-handed tip-on pass to Andrew Conway after an offload from Keith Earls in the first half was a joy, a flash of pure skill that drew a hum of appreciation from the 16,000 or so people inside the U Arena.

Simon Zebo offloads to Andrew Conway Zebo tips on a beautiful pass. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Many of them will be watching Zebo again next season, with the Ireland international set for a move to Paris this summer.

The build-up to this game featured a couple of Zebo interviews that many felt were poorly timed, but that unease didn’t appear to affect the Cork man in the slightest. Most of us could have guessed it wouldn’t.

The laidback Zebo doesn’t seem to care at all what others think of him and his playing abilities are clear to see. Having had another chance to see him up close and personal, Racing’s players are excited about welcoming the 27-year-old to the club.

“Simon speaks a bit of French, I know him from some parties!” laughs Racing flanker Yannick Nyanga when asked about Zebo. “It will be easier for him [than it has been for Donnacha Ryan].

“When you see the game he played today, he’s an exciting player to have in your side. We look forward to having him.

“He’s a fast player, he likes to pass the ball and jump in the air. With all the good players we have he’s a good addition.”

Zebo’s arrival will add to Irish interest in the club, with his former team-mate Donnacha Ryan currently making a big impact in Paris after fully recovering from a neck injury to claim his starting spot in the last two months.

Virimi Vakatawa tackles Simon Zebo Ryan tracks Zebo at the U Arena. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Tipperary native is impressing his team-mates at Racing and making some important plays.

“Especially on the kick-off when he got that ball!” says Nyanga. “He brings a lot of experience to us because we have a lot of talent in the team but not a lot of experience, we are learning.

“When you have a player like Donnacha, he’s a huge addition to the team and if he wasn’t here I don’t know if we would have won the game. We’re happy to have him in our side and not theirs.

“His French is getting better, it’s not perfect yet but it’s getting better. He talks a lot and he acts a lot. His actions speak louder than his words and you want to follow him.”

For Racing, yesterday’s win was crucial. Their hopes of a quarter-final spot remain alive ahead of a trip to Welford Road to face Leicester next weekend.

“There’s a lot of joy because it was a close game and Munster is a great team,” said Nyanga of their 34-30 win.

“We needed a win to stay alive in the competition, so we did it. Maybe we could have had more with the last penalty, but I think it was a fair score and we’re happy to still be alive and we look forward to the next game.”

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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Murray Kinsella

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