French possess fear factor says Zebo
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The France rugby team still have the ability to strike fear into their opponents, Ireland wing Simon Zebo admitted ahead of their much-anticipated Six Nations clash on Saturday.
Zebo, born in Ireland to an Irish mother and a French father hailing from thse Caribbean island of Martinique, warned that should the French side turn up in a positive frame of mind then it could make for a helter-skelter game.
"I still think there is a bit of a fear factor around playing France because if they show up and turn the switch on, which they can do, they can beat anyone and cause havoc against any defence so, yeah, the fear factor is definitely still there," said the 26-year-old Zebo, who has only faced France once before in his previous 30 Test appearances.
"But if we focus on ourselves and give our best performance for 80 minutes I think we've shown against Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and France in the past, we can stick it with any team."
Zebo, whose father was a top class 800 metres runner and would have competed for France at the 1976 Olympics, but for breaking his leg during his military service, admits there will be some blue shirts hanging in his house's cupboards this weekend as his French part of the family come over.
However, he insists there are no divided loyalties on his part and is clear about which of the matches in the Six Nations counts for him the most being an Irishman.
"England would be, there's a big history being Irish," said Zebo.
"For me personally with the family side of things, it would be a big game, playing the French."
Zebo, who has scored just one of his seven Test tries in the Six Nations, admits a move to France would be tempting and on occasions his inconsistency and individuality has not been pleasing to Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, who prizes a collective approach above all else.
Indeed Zebo's agent was at one point in contact with Toulouse when France's present head coach Guy Noves was in charge of the club but nothing came of it and he stayed at Munster.
"I'd be quite a laid-back type of fella and open to anything really," said Zebo.
"I'd say it would be different for each individual.
"At some stage I will definitely go, it's going to happen, it's just a matter of when.
"I'll play ProD2 if I have to.
"I have a lot of French family over in France. I love the lifestyle over there and playing rugby over there at some point in my life would be something I would like to experience.
"It's not many jobs you get the opportunity to change to a different country."
Zebo, who says for the moment he is dedicated to Munster, concedes his choice of clubs in the Top 14 could be limited as several have employed an increasingly 10-man game with precious few scraps for the two wings and the fullback.
"There probably has been a change. It probably depends on which club you go to, I suppose," said Zebo.
"You could be lucky or unlucky with the style of rugby you get.
"It's a different lifestyle, a different experience.
"Rugby is such a short career and I love Munster so much but at the same time, at some stage, eventually, I could be 40 before I decide to go, You never know!"