Off The Ball
Off The Ball

21.07 19 Mar 2015


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Former Ireland head coach Eddie O'Sullivan believes Luke Fitzgerald deserves a place in the Ireland team - but feels that the man he is replacing is unlucky.

Simon Zebo did not even make the matchday 23 for the Scotland match, with Leinster's Fitzgerald replacing him on the left flank. 

Speaking to Off The Ball tonight, Eddie felt Zebo had been solid during the Six Nations so far. 

"Simon wouldn't have had as big an impact as Tommy Bowe. Tommy had more ball in his hand but that was probably to the flow of the game rather than Simon wasn't working or wasn't working very hard. He did a lot of work at the rucks," said Eddie.

"He's had very good performances, solid performances. But Joe Schmidt feels that Luke is going to bring something extra. It's a big call to make. It's tough on Simon, especially when you go from starting to watching on TV. It's a hell of a sickener." 

But Eddie also feels Fitzgerald has earned his chance.

"If anybody deserves to get back on the field and play, it's Luke Fitzgerald because the guy has had a dreadful, dreadful time with injury," he said, adding that the Leinster player will be "fresh" due to the enforced lack of game-time in recent years. 

"He feels he deserves it and that's no disrespect to Simon Zebo. That's not his decision to get picked. That's the coach's decision to pick Luke Fitzgerald over Simon Zebo and he's right to feel that way about that." 

Eddie also contrasted the styles of Zebo and Fitzgerald, describing the former as a "power runner" and the latter as "explosive off either foot", but feels both have the X-Factor.

He also cited "flexibility" as the main reason why Munster's Felix Jones has consistently been rewarded with a place on the bench during this year's championship.


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