Simon Zebo: Donncha O'Callaghan and Eddie O'Sullivan react to the Munster exit news
Will Zebo's departure at the end of the season end his Ireland career?20:46 Monday 23 October 2017, 20:46 23 Oct 2017
A destination has not been confirmed but one thing is certain, Simon Zebo will be leaving Munster when the 2017-18 season comes to an end.
The province announced the news of the homegrown Munster and Ireland wing and full back's upcoming exit and with the 27 year old Cork man's own remarks about a move abroad, making France - given his ability to speak French and his own paternal roots in that country - the likely destination, with the potential knock on effect on his chances of being again by Ireland arising one more.
He said: "I have always noted the draw to play abroad one day, and in not taking this decision lightly I have decided on what’s best for my family. With my partner Elvira and two young children, Jacob and Sofia, we are planning for our future and this is the right time for us to make the move."
As the news broke, Zebo's former Munster team-mate Donncha O'Callaghan of Worcester Warriors and ex-Ireland head coach Eddie O'Sullivan discussed the situation with Joe on Monday Night Rugby and whether it spells the end of his international career.
O'Sullivan is "hopeful" that Zebo's Ireland career can continue.
"I don't believe there's a policy of exclusion, there never has been, in my experience and if you look at it, the exclusion policy has only applied to certain players," he said.
"It's really down to the coach and what he wants to do. But I don't know if he's had a discussion with Joe Schmidt about that. You would think it would be a priority for Simon because he is at the peak of his powers for his age. He has had a huge impact for Ireland. He's an influential player, he's a game-changer, he's got that X-factor and he's a guy that you'd like to think would be playing on for a few more years in a green shirt. So hopefully it doesn't take him out of that equation. It does make it more difficult if you look at both sides of the equation. It's more difficult for a guy to play overseas."
He added that "you would hope he is still in the frame" and pointed out that "we don't have a bottomless pit of professional players" to choose from.
O'Callaghan believes Ireland do have the depth to cope at wing or full back in Zebo's absence but feels the player himself would have taken that factor into account.
He added: "Good guy, well-natured, you want to see him do well and do right by his family and I think these are just going to become more and more common in the professional game where guys look at lifestyle and a cultural experience as well, so obviously devastated to lose him, especially at the moment when he's playing so well, but you just know he's going to do a great job for Munster this season."
O'Callaghan also spoke openly about how defeats hurt him as bitterly as ever, even in this latter part of his career, admitting that it "drives me nuts".
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