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Simon Zebo: 'If you’ve nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all'

The 24-year-old was happy with his performances in Argentina, but knows he has to keep impressing Joe Schmidt.

Zebo [R] and Paul O'Connell in Munster's new Adidas alternate kit.
Zebo [R] and Paul O'Connell in Munster's new Adidas alternate kit.

WHILE PLEASED WITH his two performances in Argentina last month, Simon Zebo won’t be drawn into suggesting that Ireland’s number 11 jersey is his to lose.

The Munster wing admits it was a pleasure to be back in the international fray after a year-long absence, but now in his third week of pre-season ahead of the 2014/15 campaign, pinpoints provincial form as the only way of impressing Joe Schmidt.

“I just have to keep playing well with Munster. As long as I keep playing well with Munster then I’ll let the green jersey take care of itself,” said Zebo at the launch of the province’s new alternate kit in the University of Limerick.

The main focus obviously for us is starting with a few wins in the Pro12 leading up into the Heineken and after that the November internationals and the Six Nations will all be taken care of. I’ve just got to keep playing well in red.”

Last season saw plenty of speculation around Schmidt’s reasons for being hesitant to bring Zebo back into the Ireland fold, but the 24-year-old underlines that “our relationship is fine.”

The New Zealander congratulated Zebo on performing “very well” in Resistencia and Tucumán, before detailing the areas of the Cork man’s game in which he hopes to see further growth.

“It’s all about one per-centers, you know?” continues the Munster wing. “There’s never going to be anything where you’re 50 per cent better than other players “It’s about getting that one per cent better. [Joe] was happy with the tour and the main thing is we won it. I got a few congrats off him, so I’m happy with that.”

Simon Zebo runs in a try Zebo races clear to score against Argentina last month. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Zebo says Schmidt has never discussed non-rugby issues with him, despite any rumours to the contrary. The 2013 Lions tourist doesn’t “get any extra special treatment or any extra conversations” from the Ireland head coach.

While some have suggested that Zebo perhaps takes the game less seriously than certain peers, on account of his laid-back nature and willingness to celebrate, there is no temptation for the wide man to change his mental approach.

I’d say people who have that impression don’t know the game well enough to judge because they’re obviously not judging me by my rugby. I just tend to not really care about what other people think. If you’ve nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

“That’s what my dad told me from a young age. Why would I play with a frown? I took it up because I loved it and was happy to play it. And I’m still playing it now, so I’m playing with a smile on my face.”

NO ALTERNATIVE: Simon Zebo was speaking at the launch of the new Adidas Munster Rugby 2014/15 alternate kit. The new solar green jersey is available to buy from the 1st August in Life Style Sports Stores nationwide and online at www.lifestylesports.com/munster.

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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