"He might say something with an accent that makes me crack up" - Zebo enjoying punditry dynamic with Heaslip
Simon Zebo is enjoying his time on the pundits' couch.
In previous years, with his Racing endeavours inspiring an Irish exodus, it was much more difficult. He was in his prime back then so that's why, in those days, the wounds were fresher. The sense of injustice of a little sharper.
But now he's come to terms with it. More out of necessity than choice but either way, the distraction is no harm.
Who'd wind up Jamie Heaslip if he was out in Paris?
"It was a bit harder back then, when I moved to Racing," Zebo admits, as part of BoyleSports 'don't just bet, choose wisely' campaign.
"It was harder then. But now I've had time away, out of it, so I know the score, I can put my supporters' cap on and be happy out and roar them on."
Zebo says his old Irish team-mates have been in contact over the last few weeks, searching for cafe and restaurant recommendations for the city he once called home.
But his main job, as well as analysing the games for RTÉ, for which he's received widespread acclaim, has been keeping one particular old team-mate in check.
Jamie Heaslip set out his stall early in this World Cup. In a string of marmite tweets, he linked Ireland's Rugby World Cup journey to, you're in Donnybrook now, 'our tech world's relentless innovation.'
"This resilience isn't just on the field," he continued, "it's echoed in the corridors of our startups."
Ireland's rugby journey isn't just about sport. It's a testament to a nation's mettle, and it casts shadows deep into our tech world's relentless innovation. 🏉 #IrelandRises
— jamie heaslip (@jamieheaslip) September 8, 2023
But podcasts and tweets and tech-talks included, Zebo says Heaslip is a great friend, was a great team-mate and is just as good a help as he settles into the job as pundit.
The jargon goes over the heads of many, does many heads in too but Zebo says the most endearing thing about Heaslip is that he takes the slagging well.
"He's very slaggable, and very easy to wind up," says Zebo.
"He takes it really well.
"He dishes is out too as much as anyone.
"I just try catch him out sometimes. He might say something with an accent that makes me crack up, and we just end up having a laugh.
"Thank God he's there, because I feel way more comfortable when you have your friends to bounce things off and talk to, it can be daunting, especially when you're new to it like I am.
"I get on really well with Jamie, we have great craic. He's a brilliant fella. But it's all fun and games. I've a lot of love for Jamie."
"I'm really enjoying the punditry," he says,"And as long as Jamie keeps coming I'll be having fun," he concludes.
Just the tail-end. pic.twitter.com/ssAYuVpxiu
— Daithí Ó (@hakaman) September 10, 2023
Being a current player, Zebo says that the analysis comes naturally to him.
"You know what teams are looking for. One look for me, I would pick up on what a team is trying to do or the shape or stuff. But the game moves very quickly so for an ex-player, it might take a bit longer.
"In a few years time, I'll need to do more study but right now, I know all the teams and players, so that helps. Obviously, I'd rather be out there playing, but I'm enjoying it."
As for his own rugby, he's looking forward to another season with Munster, with an exciting game against the Barbarians coming up in Thomond Park next week.
"It should be a very exciting fixture.
"We've a run out on Friday against Connacht. Looking to continue, my pre-season form has been pretty good, so like Ireland have built in steady into this World Cup, I don't want to peak too early either.
"I want to have more of an impact playing-wise this year.
"Last year, that wasn't possible through multiple reasons, but hopefully I can start well, I feel good, healthy, I'm moving well and the skills haven't gone anywhere, so all good."
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