Joe Schmidt On How He Reacted To Simon Zebo Leaving Ireland For France

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Former Ireland boss Joe Schmidt says he travelled to Munster as soon as he heard Simon Zebo was thinking of leaving for France and begged the fullback not to go.

Zebo left Munster for Racing 92 in 2018 in a shock decision, having been a regular for both club and country until the move was announced. But while he remained a regular with Munster until his departure, Schmidt dropped the 29-year-old has soon as the deal was official.

Many have suggested that Zebo didn’t fit Schmidt’s style of play anyway, but speaking on BBC Radio Ulster this week, Schmidt claims he was a very important player for Ireland and he did not want him to leave.

“If you were to interview Simon, he would tell you about me travelling to Munster, pleading with him to stay in the country,’ said Schmidt.

“He was a guy we wanted to keep investing in. He was really important to us.

“It’s not like that relationship isn’t positive. I’ve texted him and kept an eye on how he’s going at Racing.

“Does he fit? You don’t want all the same sort of people. We have very different personalities in the team. He’s a flamboyant character but he’s still a super player.”

Zebo has gone on to excel at Racing 92 and returned to Thomond Park on Saturday for the first time in the Champions Cup. And with the way he spoke about Munster, a return home seems likely in the future.

“It was incredible. The reception was incredible,” Zebo said.

“As always the Munster fans are up there with the best in the world as we all know.

“To come back here and play in the Racing colours I was very proud but it was a very close game.