Simon Zebo, one of the lucky 31 chosen to be part of Ireland’s Rugby World Cup squad, admitted to being a bag of nerves as he waited to hear if he had survived the final cut.
Ireland lost 10-16 to Wales in their penultimate warm-up game on Saturday, and the group dispersed after the match knowing only the tournament squad would gather again in camp on Monday, with the rest sent back to their provinces.
Simon Zebo and Joe Schmidt pictured at the Ireland training camp in Carton House on Monday September 1.
They knew they would be told one way or another on Sunday and Zebo described the agonising wait to the42.ie.
“I don’t think I’ve ever refreshed my email so much in my life, just hoping for something to pop up,” he said. “It was a long old day.
“I spent it wisely by chilling out with my family, trying to get them to take my mind off things, and it worked out well.”
The Munster winger admitted that he wasn’t able to completely switch off, checking with provincial teammates Conor Murray and Keith Earls to see if they had heard from Ireland boss Joe Schmidt.
All three made it through to Schmidt’s final squad, but one who didn’t, and who was thought to be in with a chance, was Felix Jones.
Zebo said he had yet to speak to his fellow Munster back, believing the best thing was to allow him time and space to deal with the news.
“No I haven’t, I’ve left it alone,” he said when asked if he had contacted Jones. “He’d be one of my best friends up here (in Ireland camp), if not my best friend up here to be honest.
“So I know what he’s like as a person. I know he doesn’t want any sympathy, he just wants to put his head down now and work hard for Munster. I’ll just let him at it for a couple of days.”
Zebo believes that Jones and other players left out of the final 31 man should maintain positivity. With a final warm-up game against England on Saturday and the tournament itself beginning in two weeks, there is every chance injury could yet lead to a late call-up for someone.
“If you’re lucky, happy days, but if you’re not you just have to regroup and perform well with your province, because anything can happen,” he said.
“You’re one injury away from coming back in.”