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Published: 11:13 | 13/1/18

Zebo still hopes for Six Nations call-up

Munster full-back Simon Zebo has not ruled out playing for Ireland in next month's Six Nations despite his impending move to Racing 92.

It was revealed in October that Zebo would not be signing a new contract with the IRFU after he agreed to join the French Top 14 next season.

That move was confirmed just five days before the two sides meet in a crucial Champions Cup Pool 4 game in Paris on Sunday.

Although the IRFU do not have a definitive policy on players joining club's abroad, they favour Irish-based players when selecting the national side.

Zebo, who has been capped 35 times, was not in the Ireland squad for the autumn internationals against South Africa, Fiji and Argentina in November.

Speaking about his Ireland exclusion, Zebo told French media on Friday: "It’s unfortunate but that’s the way it is

“There were players in this situation before me and they continued to be called up for Ireland.

“I would not understand if there’s one rule for the others and another for me. I’m fully eligible because I’m a Munster player until June. I hope I’ll be called up for the Six Nations.”

If Zebo's intention was to alert Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt to his availability, then his comments about the "rigid" style adopted by the Kiwi coach might have backfired.

He implied that his style did not fit into the current Ireland set-up.

Zebo explained: "With Munster, I'm free to try things, to play the moves that I see. I don't have any shackles. Joe is a super coach who has had great success with Ireland.

"We already talked about it face-to-face. I said to him that I couldn't play in such a rigid structure. I can't play like that.

"Winning is important but for me it's also important to do it in a certain way. But if you ask me to pick between losing in style or winning ugly, I'd choose the second option."

On his move to Racing 92, he added: "I wanted to come to a team that were at least as ambitious as Munster. I don't want to just be happy to live in France. I want to win titles - to have an impact in a winning team."

Munster go into Sunday's match with Racing four points clear at the top of Pool 4 knowing victory would virtually secure a quarter-final berth.

Ireland kick off their Six Nations campaign with a trip to Paris to play France on Saturday, 3 February.

The fifth round of the European Rugby Champions Cup takes place over the weekend of 12-14 January, and you can watch the best of the action on BT Sport on the eir Sport package. On Friday, 12 January, Premiership side Bath host Pro 14 side Scarlets at the Recreation Ground [BT Sport 2, kick-off 7.45pm], then on Saturday, 13 January, Premiership leaders Exeter Chiefs take on Top 14 side Montpellier at Sandy Park [BT Sport 2, kick-off 3.15pm], and Pro 14 side Ospreys meet Premiership side Saracens at the Liberty Stadium later the same evening [BT Sport 3, kick-off 7.45pm].

On Sunday, 14 January, Top 14 side Toulon take on Benetton at the Stade Felix Mayol [BT Sport 2, kick-off 2pm], while Top 14 side Castres host Premiership side Leicester Tigers at the Stade Pierre Fabre [BT Sport 2, kick-off 6.30pm].  

Image: Inpho/ Billy Strickland

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