Simon Zebo pictured at an Ireland training session at Carton House in 2016
FORMER Munster star Simon Zebo says he is flattered by calls from rugby fans to have him brought into the Ireland squad for the Six Nations Championship.
Renowned centre Robbie Henshaw, endured a tough evening against England at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday after being deployed as a full-back for the Six Nations opener.
While many Irish rugby supporters have called for Zebo to receive a call-up to the Ireland squad ahead of this Saturday’s clash with Scotland at Murrayfield, Racing 92 star Zebo says he’s happy to “lay low, under the radar” and let his performances on the pitch do the talking.
But he added: “My phone is always on. I've two phones and they both work, so we'll have to see.”
The Munster man also suggests that Robbie Henshaw shouldn’t be judged on his performance last weekend at full-back, adding ‘the rust will be knocked off him now’.
“Robbie Henshaw is a world-class player. He's a Lion, he's a Grand Slam champion and a Champions Cup winner. He's a proven performer.
“Everyone can have an off day and that was probably it. I touted him to go in and have a stormer, but it just wasn't to be. He just had a little off game and he hasn’t played at full-back in years, so you can't fault the guy really.
“I reckon he'll be more used to the intricacies of the position, how to cover the grass a little bit more after playing because you can train all you want but the difference is playing it in a match. The rust will be knocked off him now and if he gets selected there again, he'll be all the better for it.”
Zebo said it means a lot to him to hear Ireland fans think highly of him as he is playing abroad in the Top 14 in France.
Zebo said: “It's hugely flattering, it's really nice and it means a lot to me. Especially when you are playing out of the country and there's still so many people that think so highly of you back home who want to see you wearing the green jersey.
“I'll just keep on chasing and trying to give the coaches a few headaches by playing well. Hopefully, we'll go a long way in the tournament in the Champions Cup with Racing and do well in the Top 14, like we've been doing. All I can do is play my best rugby and give them decisions to make come World Cup time. For now, I'll lay low, under the radar and keep doing my best. That's all I can do.”
Looking back on Ireland’s weekend defeat to England, Zebo added: “It was a disappointing result, I know all the lads will be gutted with their performance. They didn't play well, but they still had the opportunity to win it. They weren't a million miles away with 15/20 minutes to go on the clock. That just shows how good and competitive this team is.
“You have to give full credit to England though, they were obviously hurting after last year when Ireland won the Grand Slam in Twickenham and sometimes a team wants it a tiny bit more than the other. That's the difference at international level. I thought England were brilliant and Ireland were just a little bit off the pace.”
Simon Zebo is a Paddy Power Rugby Ambassador and columnist with Paddy Power News