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Schmidt keeps selection options open

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Video - Joe Schmidt on exactly why Simon Zebo hasn't been selected

Munster’s Simon Zebo and Scarlets second row Tadgh Beirne could still feature for Ireland in this season’s Six Nations.

Zebo and Beirne were left out of Joe Schmidt’s 36-man squad.

Zebo hasn’t played for Ireland since he confirmed his decision to leave Munster at the end of the season, but Schmidt insisted it was decision based on form.

“He is in consideration like anyone who is playing in Ireland. We felt that Jordan (Larmour) was probably playing at a level  that it was appropriate to select him.”

“I think Simon is great value to have in the squad. he has got an irresistible charm about him, he is always smiling, his positivity is great, but by his own standards he didn’t have a great day in Paris (against Racing 92) a couple of weeks ago – there was some wayward passing, some turnovers that he’d look back and be frustrated with himself and it is crucial that at the time of selection that we know that guys are in good form. So there is a bit of time during Six Nations where there is Pro 14 games where he can still strike a claim.”

Beirne is to join Munster next season, but despite playing outside Ireland now he’s still in contention.

“It’s a complex one when they’re playing away from Ireland. He’s committed to coming back to Munster next year, which is super and we had a conversation at the start of the season about that happening.” Schmidt said.

“He’s played around 1350 minutes already this season – our players don’t usually play that much. Now, I had a great chat with Wayne Pivac and they’ve had injuries to Jake Ball and Lewis Rawlins, so that happens in squads sometimes.”

Beirne would have to be made available for the Scarlets during the fallow weeks of the Six Nations and it’s counted against him.

“I wouldn’t rule him out completely, but it is complicated. That intermittent involvement with the squad, particularly when it’s your first involvement, is probably one of the things that just tipped the balance away from him.”

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Video - Joe Schmidt on exactly why Simon Zebo hasn't been selected