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Andy Farrell slams door shut on Ireland return for Simon Zebo

By Ian Cameron
Simon Zebo (centre) has saluted an interesting point made by Andrew Trimble (right), his former Ireland team-mate (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

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Former Ireland fullback Simon Zebo won’t be returning from his international exile anytime soon, at least according to Ireland head coach Andy Farrell.

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Zebo left Munster to pursue a career with Racing 92 in 2018 having struggled to be a regular feature under Joe Schmidt’s Ireland regime. Leaving the IRFU payroll meant Zebo meant he would not be considered for selection for Ireland.

Speaking on the RugbyPass Podcast recently, Zebo said he was ‘unhappy’ in Ireland camp towards the end of the Schmidt era. “I just wasn’t enjoying it. I wasn’t happy I suppose.”

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Simon Zebo on his relationship with Irish rugby, the Champions Cup Final and the Lions | Rugby Podcast | Rugby News
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Simon Zebo on his relationship with Irish rugby, the Champions Cup Final and the Lions | Rugby Podcast | Rugby News

“Going to the national camp, I’d stay in my room all day and things like that. It wasn’t a good place mentally going there towards the end. That definitely played a big part in the decision [to go to France]. I’m very, very happy now so I suppose it all worked out.

“It’s probably a little bit sad as well I suppose.”

While an exception was made for Jonny Sexton who spent two seasons in France at the Parisian club, Zebo was not considered an exception to the rule despite fine form for the Top 14 giants. Yet with Ireland struggling to fill the void left by Rob Kearney and the injured Jordan Larmour, and Stockdale still learning the ropes in the position, many have queried if the undeniably talented Cork native could be drafted back in.

The 30-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season, and with his future unclear, Farrell was quizzed about the possibility of selecting players outside (like him) for Ireland.

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“First things first, I suppose you know the answer to this, I’ve always got to think of what’s the right thing to do for Irish rugby in the here and now and the long term,” reported the Irish Mirror.

“That’s the reason that we’ve always gone down the route of not looking outside of Ireland so we’re protecting Irish rugby.”

So unless Zebo returns to Ireland, fans shouldn’t expect him to line out for Ireland anytime soon.

A recent RugbyPass poll on Instagram, found 83 per cent of over 15,000 respondents believe Zebo should play be selected for Ireland despite playing for Racing 92.

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