Zebo's absence in Champions Cup semi-final 'spooked Conor Murray' - Ronan O'Gara

Zebo's absence in Champions Cup semi-final 'spooked Conor Murray' - Ronan O'Gara

If anyone is well suited to dissecting Munster's defeat to Racing 92 in the Champions Cup last weekend, it's Ronan O'Gara.

The double Heineken Cup winner with the Irish province and former Racing coach will no doubt have watched last Sunday's events with a keen interest.

Zebo's absence in Champions Cup semi-final 'spooked Conor Murray' - Ronan O'Gara

Before the game kicked off, Munster coach Johann van Graan's decision to drop Simon Zebo was a hot talking point and O'Gara feels it had one 'fascinating' consequence.

"The consequences of dropping Zebo were manifold but the most fascinating one was how it spooked Conor Murray," O'Gara said, writing in his Irish Examiner column.

It was the first time in a Munster jersey I’ve seen Murray that rattled, and a lot of it could have been down to not having Zebo there.

"There was a different chemistry in the backline with Zebo excluded, and by ‘different’ I don’t mean better.

"A lot of Conor’s discomfort came down to the fact the telepathic relationship he has with Zebo was removed from the equation."

O'Gara states that Murray "gets a kick out of laughing at Zebo, knowing he’s Mr Flash, but also aware that he can and will do it."

The former out-half said Munster's number 9 and Racing-bound Zebo "seem very good for each other."

Conor Murray and Simon Zebo
Conor Murray and Simon Zebo

O'Gara was critical of the decision to start 23-year-old Alex Wootton over Munster record try scorer, saying that despite his potential, Wootton "wasn’t a better defensive option than Zebo for that game, so the decision doesn’t stack up."

The Crusaders coach feels Leinster will do well to be wary of Racing in the final as the French club will put up "a sterner challenge" than Scarlets did in the semis.

Rog states that Racing will relish coming up against Europe's top team like they did in the 2016 final against Saracens.

"Racing’s big players will love this. They won’t pitch up in Bilbao to enjoy the experience. They’re coming for the booty."

You can read O'Gara's Irish Examiner column in full in the Irish Examiner.

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