Simon Zebo, who leaves Munster at the end of the season, pictured at a press briefing at UL on Tuesday
SIMON Zebo has revealed that he wants to play in the French Top 14 while still in his prime, but is keeping his options open about a return to Munster in the future.
Twenty seven-year-old Zebo will leave Munster this summer to start playing in France next season. Zebo has been linked with a move to a number of French clubs, including Pau and Racing 92 next summer. However, speaking at a press briefing at UL yesterday, he said he could not reveal which club he was moving to nor how long that contract was for.
Zebo said he was adamant that he wanted to play in the Top 14 before he hits his 30s.
Zebo said: “I knew the decision (on my contract) was coming up and I just had to make a decision for me and what I consider is best for me and my family.
“It's something I always wanted to do and the right opportunity at the right time came up. I'm still young enough, I could always hopefully one day - the door isn't fully closed on me - I'd still love to be a part of Munster Rugby in the future.
“But trying out the Top 14 is always something I wanted to do. I could have waited until I was 31 or 32 and be a sheep like 90% of all the players who decide to go then, but I wanted to try it when I'm in my prime and give it my best shot.
“I'm true to myself and I know who I am, so I do things my way and I'm not shy about doing them.”
Asked if he could envisage returning to play in Munster at some stage in the future, Zebo said: “Munster is my home. In my eyes, it's one of the best places in the world to play rugby.
”I've been blessed and very grateful to be given the opportunity to represent Munster for the past few years.
“This is a step I've wanted to take in my life, but definitely not closing the door and hopefully, Munster wouldn't close the door on me either because it's my home.”
Zebo's decision to play rugby abroad next season saw him omitted from the Ireland squad for the recent autumn internationals.
However, he is not giving up on returning to the Ireland fold, even when he is playing abroad.
Zebo said: “That'll be tough too in the future (watching Ireland in 6 Nations), but Joe (Schmidt) said door wasn't closed so if he's telling the truth and I'm playing well in the Six Nations then I might have a chance to get in there.
“You know there's a risk (over playing for Ireland) I suppose when you decide to move abroad. It's up to the coaches then if they want to select a player then they can select a player.
“If they don't and don't feel the need then that's their call. It's nothing really to do on me, if I'm playing good rugby and playing with Munster then I see myself in contention.”
Zebo and his Munster colleagues are preparing for Saturday's return Champions Cup fixture with Leicester Tigers at Welford Road, 5.30pm, live on BT Sport 2. Munster scored a 33-10 bonus point win over the Tigers at Thomond Park on Saturday.