Munster veteran still dreaming of an Ireland recall in the Six Nations

David Skippers
Simon Zebo Munster URC 2022 - Alamy.jpg

Munster and Ireland utility back Simon Zebo.

Despite being in the twilight of his career, veteran Munster outside back Simon Zebo is still dreaming of making an international return with Ireland during the upcoming Six Nations.

Zebo’s last Test appearance came in 2017 and he hasn’t played for his country after the Irish Rugby Football Union’s selection policy ruled him out following his move to Racing 92 in 2018.

The 33-year-old returned to Munster in 2021 and, although he was called up to an Ireland squad that year, he has not been in action at Test level again.

Battling injuries

The 35-Test international, who is comfortable on the wing or at full-back, has been hampered by injuries this season which has seen him make just three appearances for Munster.

However, he has shown in those matches that he is still excellent on attack and, with Mack Hansen and Jimmy O’Brien ruled out of Ireland‘s Six Nations campaign due to injuries, Zebo believes he can still do a job for Ireland in the Test arena.

“You’d never know,” he told RTÉ Sport, when asked if he could make a late bid for a Six Nations place.

“I’m fully focused on just [trying to] keep playing well for Munster, you don’t want to count your chickens.

“I just want to keep playing well, keep getting my hands on the ball and showing what I can do and trying to help Munster as best I can, and I know if I’m fit and healthy I can mix it with anyone, so I’ve just got to keep putting my best foot forward. That’s the goal.

“I’m very confident in my ability, I always have been. I know that if I’m playing to the best of my ability that I can play at any level.

“I’ve just got to focus on keep on playing well for Munster and that’s my goal. We have a lot of quality players here and the competition is high, I’ve got to do my best to keep playing quality rugby and whatever happens, happens.

“But no matter what the level, the bigger the game is when I tend to play my best rugby.

“I’ve got full confidence in myself and hopefully I can keep playing as much as possible and stay healthy, so that’s the main goal.”

Zebo has caught the eye recently with fine performances at full-back for Munster, although he hasn’t had an extended run in the Irish province’s matchday squad over the past 12 months.

He has made just five appearances for Munster during that period and missed their triumphant run to the United Rugby Championship title during the latter stages of last season.

“There were different reasons for that [absence] as well so I won’t go into it, but my health has been the main issue and being able to train at a high level and then being able to put your best foot forward was a big part of that,” he said.

“I know if I’m healthy and training well then I’ll play well, so now at the moment the body is in good health and I’m able to put some back-to-back games on the board, but I haven’t been for a while.

Backing himself to shine

“So yeah, the bigger the game, the better I play. Knowing that, and knowing that my body is giving me confidence in training, now I can just show what I can do on the pitch and that’s been the case the last few games.

“I’ve been playing well for a long time, it’s that my health has kind of let me down a little bit in getting back to back performances and different things.

“Each game I’ve been involved in this season has been a top tier one against an international quality team so I’ve been happy with how I’ve performed.

“Obviously there’s room for improvement on how we’ve performed but it’s been a good start for me. Hopefully I can build on those performances and keep my form going into the next part of the season.”

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