Deported Irishman Simon Zebo wished James Lowe the best when the New Zealander launched Friday night’s Test for his adoptive nation after passing qualifying under the three-year residency rule controversial.
Lowe will become the 11th foreigner to qualify to come to Ireland since the IRFU accepted the project player project in 2012 when introducing South African Richardt Strauss.
This process allows imports from New Zealand, South Africa and elsewhere to qualify for the Irish Inspection group selection after living in the country for a period of 36 months.
However, while expats willing to live in Ireland have been embraced by the established Irish team, locally born and bred talent such as Racing 92’s Zebo are considered ineligible for selection. because they play for a club that is not based
What he has a problem with is how he is deemed ineligible to become part of the international team he has represented on 35 times. No matter how well he performed in the Top 14, he was disappointed to learn he wouldn’t be considered by his current boss Andy Farrell, who took the same stance as his predecessor Joe Schmidt.
Appearing in the latest episode of RugbyPass Offload with the companions of Jamie Roberts and Ryan Wilson, Zebo was not afraid of difficulty in Farrell’s selection of Lowe to start his match against Wales in the Fall Cup of Nations. “To be fair, I have no problem with that,” he said. “Add strength to him [Lowe]. Go out and do your thing. He has been an integral part of Leinster for the past few years. He tried so hard – he deserved it 100%. I hope he comes out and has a great debut.
“Obviously I would love to participate. That will probably never change. But not qualifying just because I play abroad will make me more uncomfortable than people like James or Bundee (picked).
“We saw when Johnny (Sexton) competed overseas (at Racing). People say, “Oh, we’re defending Irish rugby,” but how many players were left when Johnny left? There was no major exodus. There hasn’t been a major exodus since I left. That’s a bit of a myth. It was the same thing when Tommy Bowe left to play for Ospreys.
“The annoying thing is I don’t qualify but certainly don’t have any anger towards James or Bundee or these people. They give it 100% every time they play in the province or for Ireland and power them. But you hear stories of coaches from the past saying “Come play in Ireland, you will play for Ireland”. Perhaps there has to be a little more value on the Irish jersey or what it means to be Irish to play for their country.