Andy Farrell has named his 35-man squad for the rescheduled Ireland Six Nations matches later this month and it was no surprise that the name of Simon Zebo was absent from the list.
It was June 2017 when the former Munster back earned the last of his 35 caps in a win over Japan at Shizuoka. On announcing in October of that year that he would be joining Racing, Joe Schmidt, the then Test team coach, froze him out of his plans.
Not since the Six Nations title-clinching win at Scotland in March 2015 has a player based outside Ireland been capped, Johnny Sexton the last to get recognition. While Zebo is now at the same Racing club Sexton was, those days of calling up someone who doesn’t play his club rugby for one of the four provinces seem over.
Appearing on RugbyPass Offload, the new podcast show he is hosting along with England’s Dylan Hartley, Wales’ Jamie Roberts and Scotland’s Ryan Wilson, Zebo reflected on his cut-short Ireland career and explained where he currently stood with new Test boss Farrell.
“That’s a tricky one. I haven’t spoken to Andy in quite a bit of time now. We have a really good relationship anyway. He is a quality dude, a quality person. I haven’t spoken to him in a long time.
Big Dev's warmly-received comeback earlier this year has now been forgotten https://t.co/12IXslePp6
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 8, 2020
“I suppose the door is never really closed. There is no official rule so if I was to play unbelievably well, play out of my skin, us [Racing] win a European Cup and challenge again next year, you never know what can happen but as of now, yeah, contact has been quite limited, unfortunately,” he said.
However, the singular focus of playing club rugby in France has suited him compared to life with Ireland when a Munster player. “I just wasn’t enjoying it. I wasn’t happy, I suppose, going to international camp, meeting up, I’d kind of stay in my room all day, things like that. It wasn’t a good place for me mentally going there towards the end.
“That definitely played a big part in the decision. I’m very happy now, so I suppose it all worked out. It was maybe meant to be like that for me. It’s probably a little bit sad as well.”
– To listen on iTunes, click here
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