When Joe Schmidt announced his Ireland squad this afternoon, there was one name that everyone was searching for – Simon Zebo.
Unfortunately for the Cork man, his recently announced departure from Munster at the end of the season has seemed to have signalled the end of his international career if today’s 38-man squad is anything to go by.
The exclusion is understandable from the IRFU’s perspective, if they begin to select players who intend to play abroad or who are currently playing abroad it could potentially set the precedent of Irish players moving to England and France in search of better opportunities.
Zebo’s performances for Munster and Ireland have improved dramatically in recent seasons, especially as far as Schmidt is concerned. In the last year, he has established himself as Ireland’s first choice full-back and has backed up that assertion with commanding, experienced performances in the most difficult of circumstances. As a result, he has earned the trust of the 52-year-old Kiwi.
However, unless Zebo returns to Ireland after his stint abroad, we may not see him again in a green shirt, which would be a huge shame.
Conor Murray, is one of Zebo’s best friends and the Limerick man was speaking on RTÉ Radio 1 this afternoon, soon after the squad was announced or Zebo’s exclusion confirmed. He admitted that he’s sad to see his friend go because they won’t get an opportunity to play with one another on the biggest stage.
“From a selfish, friend point of view, yeah of course [disappointed he’s not in the Ireland squad] because if you think about just being in a Munster jersey at the moment, the wins we’ve had…linking up with him for a try and just celebrating.
“He’s a happy go lucky guy and he makes you relax just being around him and I enjoy it, it’s the same in an Irish jersey. Obviously we have a few games left with Munster this year and hopefully we do something good there but even not having a chance to play with him again in a green shirt…it’s sad.
“Even when I hung up the phone with him the other night, you know? iIt’s just a bit sad because we’ve had such good memories together.”
Although it’s disappointing to Munster and Ireland supporters that Zebo will leave these shores at the end of the season, hopefully, the 27-year-old can inspire the southern province to success come May.
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