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Dublin: 6 °C Saturday 19 January, 2019

'I didn't expect it to be so quick and so blunt': Zebo on being cut adrift by Schmidt

The departing Munster fullback spoke to RTÉ’s Against the Head programme last night.

Zebo has won 35 Ireland caps.
Zebo has won 35 Ireland caps.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

AS HE PREPARES to begin a new chapter of his life and career in Paris, Simon Zebo admits he was surprised by the speed in which Joe Schmidt dropped him from the Ireland squad after his move to Racing 92 was confirmed.

The Munster fullback played his final game for the province in Saturday’s Guinness Pro14 defeat to Leinster ahead of a much-talked about switch to the Top 14 outfit next season.

Zebo found himself cut adrift from the international squad shortly after his decision to leave Ireland was announced last October, as his services were instantly dispensed for both the November Test series and Six Nations.

Speaking to Donal Lenihan on RTÉ’s Against the Head last night, Zebo revealed he didn’t expect to be exiled so quickly — but doesn’t hold any bitterness towards Schmidt or anyone in the international set-up.

“I didn’t expect it to be so quick or so blunt,” he said.

“I wouldn’t be bitter or anything, the squad have done really well. I wish everyone there all the best and I would have obviously loved to have been involved in the Six Nations or the November series. You have to accept that some decisions have consequences and that is the way it had to go for me.”

Zebo also said he hopes to return to Munster one day and hasn’t ruled out forcing his way into Schmidt’s plans for next year’s World Cup in Japan, even if the 2023 tournament is a more likely option should he come back to play in Ireland.

“I came to the decision early on in my career that I’d always like to play in France,” he explained.

Simon Zebo after the game The Cork native bid farewell to Munster fans on Saturday. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“And the opportunity to play for Racing 92 came up and I had to weigh up a lot of things, family, the age profile of my kids and where I was in my career. It just came down to timing. It’s only an hour away from Cork and it’s a really competitive club with exciting and talented players.

“I’ve no intention of going to France and chilling out and being a squad player for the rest of my contract. I fully intend on pushing as hard as I do here in Munster. I want to win silverware.

“I see myself coming back. I wouldn’t come back to play for Leinster, anyway. Munster’s my home and it always will be. I hope this isn’t the end of my connection with Munster and I definitely see myself coming home in the future.

“I’m going to do my best to get picked for Racing and also get picked for that World Cup in 2019 — and if not, 2023.”

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