Simon Zebo hails 'incredible atmosphere' at Thomond Park

Amid plenty of speculation about his future, Zebo was keen to play up the positives of life with Munster

Simon Zebo, Munster, try,

Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

After a number of very bad weeks on the bounce, including suffering a comprehensive defeat to a 14-man Stade Francais last time out, things had not been going well for Anthony Foley and his Munster side. 

However, this week has seen a number of changes taking place, notably the arrival of Andy Farrell as a consultant until the end of the season to shake things up and help Foley get the best out of the team at his disposal.

At Thomond Park on Saturday, they found another gear and put in the type of performance that had the crowd in attendance remembering the days of old, beating Stade Français 26-13.

In particular, Simon Zebo had a standout day and capped off a fantastic showing with a sublime try, after a lovely kick found him bursting straight through the middle of Stade's defence.  

Speaking to Off The Ball's Dave McIntyre after the game, Zebo was quick to praise his team-mates for spotting the run and hearing the calls, but he noted that it has been a tough few weeks behind the scenes for the players as they face up to a barrage of criticism from all corners.

"We're happy with the win, everybody has been slating us and writing us off, so to come together as a group isn't easy on the back of a couple of losses. That was very much a team performance and performance for the fans".

He added, however, that's all part of the territory: "Wearing a Munster jersey you have a lot to live up to and have a lot of pressure on your back [...] so we accept the criticism, but it's not easy when it's after consecutive losses. We took it on our backs and we drove forward as a team and put it in for the people who support us". 

Zebo also hailed the improved performance as a crucial moment in the season: "There's two ways we can go now we can just sit on it and pat each other on the back, saying 'we beat the Champions of France at home', but that's not good enough. The other way is to use this is a building block and push off and really accelerate as a team.

"It's going to be very decisive in our season which way we go from now. We just need to keep the heads down, work harder to improve all the time and keep ourselves in with a chance of winning a trophy this year". 

Image: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Speculation has surrounded the future of Zebo, given he's approaching the end of his contract, but he was giving little away, stating that he hadn't made any decisions.

However, he did note that it would be difficult to leave somewhere like Thomond Park, saying "I think it's more than not a bad place to play rugby, I think it's the best place to play rugby. It's incredible the atmosphere the fans give us on the pitch. They knew we were out of the tournament pretty much, and they still turned up in force and they were screaming for every little knock on, every moment in the game. That means so much [...] because the fans were hurting as much as the team were hurting". 

While he stated that there would be news on that front "hopefully sooner rather than later", he also said that having your name and talk about your future all over the papers is not unusual as a professional sports person: "It comes with the territory. When your contract's up and you've got some options, you've got to consider them.

"Our workplace is more in the public than any other profession, so it's a little bit harder, but you've just got to deal with it. Park it to one side, perform as best you can and do what you're paid to do".