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Zebo looks beyond summer tour and targets Six Nations title in 2014

The Munster and Ireland winger would settle for silverware next season after missing out on a first Lions tour.

Simon Zebo celebrates his try against Wales.
Simon Zebo celebrates his try against Wales.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

TALK OF IRELAND winning trophies in 2014 may have been the punchline to a bad joke back in March but Simon Zebo insists the team are targeting Six Nations success next year.

The Munster winger missed the end of Ireland’s poor Six Nations championship after breaking a bone in his foot, against England, in February. New coach Joe Schmidt has inherited a side ranked ninth in the world (their lowest placing since rankings points were introduced over a decade ago) that are looking to bounce back from defeat against Italy by defeating US Eagles (16th).

However, the Kiwi arrives on the back of another season of trophy success and with commitments from Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell to play on for their country.

“We set our sights and ambitions pretty high,” says Zebo. “We constantly want to win trophies. It is great news that Brian is sticking around and Paulie is Paulie — he’s always playing at 100% and there’s not many better than him. If we can gel our side pretty quickly, hopefully starting on this tour, it could be a very exciting year and we could end up with a couple of trophies at the end of it.”

It remains to be seen who Schmidt will select as his captain and while Jamie Heaslip, a reliable Leinster lieutenant, would be favourite, Peter O’Mahony will do his captaincy chances no harm with strong showings against the US Eagles and Canada. Zebo, who appears at ease in front of TV cameras and out-held dictaphones, does not believes his Munster colleague needs any coaching in media matters.

“He’s got more than enough experience of that. He’s skippered Munster a few times so he knows what he’s doing. I’ll give him a few tips on his dress sense alright but other than that he’ll be fine.

He’s one that does his talking on the pitch. He wouldn’t be one of the most mouthy in the changing rooms but, jeez, when he gets out on the pitch, he always leads by example. That’s why he makes such a good captain because everything he does on the pitch, you just want to follow him.”

Zebo feels O’Connell, Munster’s forwards talisman, will leave big boots to fill but ‘Pete is well on his way to becoming a figure in the changing room like Paul’. O’Connell, unlike Zebo, was one of the few Munster players that kept his emotions in check when the province were edged out of the Heineken Cup Final by Clermont Auvergne.

The Cork native said, “We came off an awfully disappointing final; playing away from home but we still had chances to win and do something special. A lot of the lads have been forced to press the re-set button but this is an exciting tour. It is a chance to put your best foot forward and try to impress Joe and earn a spot for the Autumn Series.

“The most important thing, first and foremost, is to pick up two wins. After that, individual performances, with people trying to impress, will take care of itself.”

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Patrick McCarry

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