FORMER SOUTH AFRICA winger Bryan Habana says he expects Simon Zebo to play an important leadership role for Ireland as he prepares to end his long exodus from international rugby.
Zebo – the returned to Münster in the summer after three years with Racing – is back in the Irish squad for the first time since 2017 and is expected to play in the November games against Japan, New Zealand and Argentina.
And the former springbok winger Habana, world champion 2007, says he is a big fan of the Münsteraner back.
“I absolutely love Zeebs. I don’t want to say he’s the perfect modern day rugby player, but I think the way he approaches the game and life is really fun, “says Habana.
” He’s extremely sociable in his attitude, extremely positive. He seems listless at times, but he’s such a free spirit, I really love it.
“When he returned to Thomond Park and scored a try (against the sharks) it was literally a fairy tale, and I think he was had been unlucky for the past few seasons not to be included in this Irish setup.
Former South African winger Bryan Habana.
Source: Billy Stickland / INPHO
“I thought he was playing brilliant rugby for racing, teaming up with Teddy Thomas, Virimi Vakatawa and Kurtley Beale and showing incredible rugby skills.
” He has now been rewarded. If he’s back in that line-up, his lead will likely be heavily relied on being a fairly young full-back component. Hopefully he’s just doing his part to breathe fresh life, positivity and energy into the game. ”
And while Zebo’s attitude and presence off the pitch is a useful boost for the squad, Habana also made it clear what he liked 31 year old expected on match day.
“I just think, I think like he’s in the right place on the field and doing some phenomenal things. He’s got a really silky skill set from a handling perspective, he’s getting some incredible offloads, we’ve seen him experimenting with the ball on his foot – I don’t know how pragmatic that is.
“Especially with Racing and now that he’s back with Münster, he was able to position his surroundings much better. So I think it’s really exciting to have him on your team as an offensive threat.
“And I also think he’s really solid from a defensive perspective that you really want to rely on as a full-back and possibly as a winger . He’s got a great all-round game and adds some tension and energy that we all love to see in rugby. “
Damian de Allende is without a contract at the end of the season.
Source: Morgan Treacy / INPHO
Habana also gave a lot of praise for Münster-Center Damian de Allende, who is out of contract at the end of the season.
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“I was involved with the Stormers at the beginning of Damian’s professional career, and he was one of those laid-back kids who you thought didn’t have the temperament or mentality to take the next step.
“I think we’ve just seen in the last three years that experience has come to the fore.
” He’s a guy who is cool, calm, and collected. It does a lot of the unseen hard work, the counter-jolting and is really a nuisance in the event of a breakdown.
“I think, rightly, it is currently considered one of the best centers in rugby in the world. His partnership with Lukhanyo Am is something that many a team would really die for.
“So (he’s) a guy who really wears his heart on his sleeve is a bit underrated when it comes to none Making noise for himself, but he’s really a key figure in what the springboks are really good at. He’s one of the most important ball carriers in collision time, one of the best defensive components for how Jacques Nienaber runs his defense system.
“He’s a guy who won’t be short of options at the end of his contract with Münster. Hopefully, if Münster has a good season, it will play a really important role. ”
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