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Dublin: 4 °C Tuesday 25 February, 2020

'I'd love to be coached by O'Gara, he knows exactly how I tick'

Simon Zebo is hoping to be in New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions but if not the Ireland back would welcome working under his fellow Corkonian this summer.

Munster back Simon Zebo at Thomond Park yesterday.
Munster back Simon Zebo at Thomond Park yesterday.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

SIMON ZEBO SAYS he would love to be coached by Ronan O’Gara at some point in his career.

O’Gara has been cited as a possible coach for Ireland’s summer tour of North America and Japan, due to the absence of Andy Farrell on Lions duty. And although Zebo hopes to be busy on tour with Farrell, he’d love to be managed by his fellow Corkonian.

“Yeah I’d love to, absolutely, he knows exactly how I tick and how I work and he’d be a great coach to work under,” said Zebo.

“He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, any time that man speaks players are going to listen.

“He’s a very good, successful coach. He’s made the transition [to coaching] really well. He’s won the Top14 as soon as he went in, he’s been in European finals, his CV is very impressive as a player and a coach.”

Ireland will play USA and Japan over the summer and O’Gara is expected to join former Ireland team-mates Girvan Dempsey and Felix Jones on Joe Schmidt’s coaching ticket.

“I’m sure if he goes on any tour with Ireland he’ll have a great impact.

“He has a cool head, he demands a high skill level, perfection, detail, but he has a very cool head on his shoulders and he’s not afraid to try things. I’d imagine as a coach he’d be the same thing. I imagine he’d be very interesting to work under.”

Meanwhile, Zebo has no concerns about Rassie Erasmus’s future at the province, but thinks they are well prepared if he does decide to go.

According to Zebo, Erasmus has spoken with some senior players in the province and given assurances that he is going nowhere, news that has filtered down through the squad.

The Muster director of rugby has two years remaining on his deal with the province, but has been tipped to take control of his native South Africa at the end of this season.

Erasmus has twice dismissed the link as ‘speculation’ and last week said he expected to be in charge at the province, and Zebo says the squad feel assured that he is going nowhere.

“The senior players’ group know what’s going on, I suppose, and things trickle down and filter down,” said Zebo.

“The organisation’s in a good place, we have come on in leaps and bounds as a squad, whether he leaves or stays I don’t think would hinder us as much as is being made out to be.

“He is putting great foundations and things like that but at the same time the players have really bought into it and are driving it on.

“He is a good, straight shooter and if there was something to be said he would have said it. I’m not concerned at all.

We have no issues over speculation and we can’t control it either. We’re not worried at all, whatever talks have gone on, I’m sure something was taken out of context. That’s what happens when you’re in a big job or when you are wanted for a big job.

“We are very much focused on the next couple of weeks we have coming up because they are going to be massive for our season.

“Rassie has left us in no doubt that there’s no need to be worried or anything and that we’re on the right path to achieve what we want to achieve.

“He knows we have heard all this speculation and all these rumours and he has assured us that we have nothing to worry about.”

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Declan Rooney

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