Ronan O’Gara and Brian O’Driscoll were on OTB’s Friday Night Rugby and spoke about whether or not Simon Zebo should be involved in the Ireland squad.
Zebo was dropped by Schmidt when he signed for Parisian club Racing 92, with the IRFU’s ‘unwritten rule’ of only picking domestic players ruling the former Munster player out of contention.
While neither O’Gara and O’Driscoll disagreed with Schmidt’s decision to exclude him, both feel he is more than talented enough to warrant a place in the Irish squad.
“It’s a pity an amicable solution wasn’t found. Zeebs had to cop himself on a bit and potentially the Irish management.
“If they could have a sit-down and get it right because we don’t have players like that too often.
“There’d be other people that disagree with me and say his work-rate isn’t anywhere near it but I’m convinced that you can get that right if you get the person right,” O’Gara commented.
The full chat with BOD & ROG:
Zebo’s move to France wasn’t the start of his troubled relationship with Schmidt, with O’Driscoll suggesting that a clash of personalities was evident from the start.
“I got the sense from early on that he wasn’t a Joe Schmidt-type player. He’s very different.
“I think himself and Joe Schmidt never really knitted brilliantly. I think once he signed for Racing he wrote himself out of any future selection with Ireland,” O’Driscoll said.
The Ireland coach values work-rate very highly in his squads and this may have been an area in which Zebo fell down on.
While the Cork native has always been able to make an impact on the field, his stats off the field left plenty of room for improvement.
“From a winger perspective, you look at the wingers that are currently playing on the periphery.
“If you look at Andrew Conway and Dave Kearney, who he went with in the last World Cup as well. They’re very different types of wingers.
“Very solid, very good under the high ball… great work-rate. I don’t know how brilliant Simon Zebo’s work-rate is,” O’Driscoll explained.
While Zebo will play no role in Ireland’s World Cup campaign this year, there is a chance that we could see him in an Ireland shirt again.
At 29, he still has plenty of years left on the clock as a professional rugby player and could look to break into the Ireland squad again if he returns to these shores.
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