Conor Murray has opened up about his “best mate” Simon Zebo moving to France and the winger’s omission from the Ireland squad.
Speaking to Ray D’Arcy on RTÉ Radio 1, Murray said he had had an idea that Zebo would be making the move before it was revealed to the public.
Today it was announced that Zebo had not been selected in the Ireland squad for the autumn internationals and Murray said Zebo would have been aware of the risk of moving to France.
“From talking to Zeebs he knew that was a risk. You have the likes of Ian Madigan and Marty Moore, lads down in France from Munster, Paddy Butler and stuff who knew when they moved away from Ireland that there was a chance.
Simon Zebo, left, and Conor Murray. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
“And it was always the unwritten rule or people knew that it was a risk that if you moved you might have to forego your Irish space.
“With the [Ireland] squad being named on the way here [to RTÉ studios] he’s not in it.”
Murray congratulated his team-mate on the move but said he would miss the “X-factor player” and playing with Zebo in green.
“From a selfish, best mate point of view, yeah of course [I’ll miss Zebo]. If you think in a Munster jersey, the moments we’ve had, the wins we’ve had. Linking up with him for a try and just celebrating.
“He’s a happy-go-lucky guy and he makes you relaxed to just to be around him and enjoy it, and the same in the Irish jersey,” Murray said.
“Obviously we have a few games left with Munster this year and hopefully we’ll do something good there.
“But at the moment not having the chance to play with him in a green shirt again, it’s sad.”
Murray agreed with D’Arcy about the likelihood of Zebo being in the squad if he was staying with Munster but the scrum-half added that he can see both sides of the argument.
“I see Zeebs’ point of view, I see my selfish point of view because he’s my mate and I see Joe [Schmidt] and the IRFU’s point of view.
“Their point of view is probably we’re two years out from a World Cup. There’s a lot of young players putting their hand up and they’re going to be playing in Ireland. And they deserve a chance.”
However Murray felt that: “I probably think if you’re good enough to play, you can play. But that’s not the way it’s been and that’s the risk that Simon took.”
Murray said it was a shame Zebo would not be lining out for Ireland come November, saying: “It’s a shame because I think he’s a really good player, he’s 27, he’s in his prime and he excites fans. It’s a shame but you got to keep the provinces strong. I get both points of view.”
Murray said he had been approached about leaving Munster before but said he was really happy playing in Ireland having signed a contract until the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup last year.
You can listen to the interview below.
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