Connacht captain John Muldoon said that Simon Zebo has probably put his international career ‘on the back burner’ by going to France, but the veteran star can understand why he has made the move.
The 34-year old revealed he was often tempted to move away from his native province but made the decision to remain at the Sportsground.
“It’s a short career. He’s been on record saying before he has got family out in France. He has got a young family. He has got some friends living out there as well in Paris and Pau.
“He saw other people go. It works for some people and they like the lifestyle out there and it doesn’t work for other people.
“Fair play to him he took the decision to go.
“It probably means that his international career goes on the back burner but his pockets will be weighed down because of it so he’ll be fine,” said Muldoon.
The Portumna native, who was strongly pursued by Ulster among others during his career, said he often wondered what might have happened had he left Connacht.
“I was often tempted. It’s a decision you make and it’s a decision that part of you will always wonder what if. But then others might say that I should be proud to have stayed in Connacht for all of my career.
“Zeebs has made the decision to go, and fair play to him and I wish him the best of luck. I am not sure what the story with other people is. But I am sure there will be other people looking to do the same thing. And like me there will be other people looking to stay where they are,” he added.
Connacht coach Kieran Keane, who is heading into his first bout of signing and resigning players, said that Zebo’s move did not necessarily make it more difficult for the head coaches of the Irish provinces.
“I would be a bit more resilient than that. The big picture for me is Connacht and the boys.
“Individuals will come and go, that’s the nature of the beast and that’s professionalism.
“That’s their prerogative as well, they have their own futures to consider.
“My prerogative is more about the team and the organisation,” he said.
Keane will get to experience his first Irish derby at the Sportsground when Zebo’s Munster come to the Sportsground this Friday.
Keane, whose side have only won one of six PRO14 games this season, will head into the contest on the back of Challenge Cup wins over Oyonnax and Worcester Warriors, but he has a number of injury issues to deal with.
Props Dominic Roberston McCoy and JP Cooney are both ruled out after picking up injuries at the weekend and both will be out of action for several weeks. Cooney was injured in the 71-14 drubbing dished out to the Connacht Eagles by Ealing Trailfinders, a performance which Keane said yesterday was “embarrassing”.
Flanker James Connolly, injured in the early stages of the 15-8 win over Worcester, is waiting on the results of a scan, while centre Eoin Griffin, who injured a calf in that game, is also being monitored, but out-half Steve Crosbie is being integrated to training this week after an ankle injury. Meanwhile, Connacht will install additional temporary terracing in the Sportsground for Friday’s game.
The decision was taken due to the level of ticket sales for the interprovincial derby.
The extended terracing is being installed at both the Bohermore and College Road ends of the Sportsground to facilitate the increased demand.
Adult and juvenile tickets for the additional terracing are on sale immediately and supporters are encouraged to purchase tickets early to avoid disappointment.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved