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Conor Murray: Zebo knew the risks of leaving, but as a mate I'd like him in Ireland team

“He’s a really proud Munsterman, a really proud Corkman, he loves playing for his country.”

Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

IRELAND AND MUNSTER scrum-half Conor Murray says he would like Simon Zebo to remain in contention for an Ireland place.

Murray, a close friend of Racing-bound star, was speaking before Joe Schmidt unveiled his squad for the November Tests with Zebo a notable absentee, but must have had more than in inkling about its make-up.

“It’s obviously not my decision to make,” Murray said at the launch of Vodafone’s ‘who we are is how we play campaign’.

“He’s obviously one of my best mates and it would be nice to still play with him in a green jersey as well.

“As a player he’s unbelievable. He’s got that x-factor. As a rugby player he’s very intelligent, his positional sense as a full-back over the last couple of years has improved, unbelievably so.

“He’s worked himself into Joe’s mind and Joe trusts him but whether he’s picked…that remains to be seen.

From my own selfish point of view, as a mate, and to have the best players playing with you or in the squad with you, I’d like to see him being picked to play. But, you know, he knows the risks that are there when he decided to move as well. So he’s well aware of that. Obviously he’d like to keep playing as well.”

The omission of Zebo, a regular starter in recent times for Ireland, is a clear signal that Ireland players bound for a move abroad will not be considered for Test involvement in the way Jonathan Sexton was when he made the move to Racing 92 in 2013.

“There hasn’t been an official rule, but it’s everyone’s understanding that to play for Ireland and be selected you have to play in the country and play for one of the provinces. Speaking to Simon he knows that too so it’s a risk.

Conor Murray This season Vodafone will give fans a rare glimpse into the childhoods of Conor Murray, Rory Best, Tiernan O’Halloran and Tadhg Furlong in their new campaign which will be live from November 1st. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“He’s a really proud Munsterman, a really proud Corkman, he loves playing for his country. That will obviously be tough for him to take if he couldn’t represent his country but he’s well aware of that risk.”

Murray admits he was ‘selfishly upset’ when Zebo called him over the weekend to confirm his move to France. However, it’s not a bolt from the blue as Munster’s record try-scorer has openly discussed an ambition to sample life in France during his career.

“You have to be honest; he’s looking at securing his family’s future a little bit more as well. That’s not an easy decision to make. Like I said he’s a massively proud Corkman, he loves Munster and Ireland.”

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Sean Farrell

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