The Red Eye is a new podcast from Off The Ball featuring Munster Rugby legends Alan Quinlan and Niamh Briggs. This week they discussed Simon Zebo, Munster's playing style and how history hangs over this year's team.
One born of Waterford and one born of Tipperary, both Munster by the grace of God.
Alan Quinlan and Niamh Briggs have joined forces to offer insight and analysis each week that specifically focuses on Munster Rugby. You can listen to the first episode of The Red Eye now and subscribe The Rugby Channel for new episodes each week.
It was a good week to start this podcast. Munster beat Scarletts 43-13 in something of a surprise.
Quinlan called it "unbelievable rugby." Briggs was delighted at the way in which Munster played. After the first two weeks that suggested Munster were finding some form, albeit inconsistent form, this game brought everything together.
Simon Zebo didn't play against the Scarletts. But he's at the centre of everything in Munster. His imprint will be felt on the way the team plays and how those around him feel.
"That want or ability to get the ball to the edge, that's something that's been missing over the last couple of seasons," Briggs explained. Briggs referenced Zebo's try against the Sharks. That score came after Munster moved the ball wide rapidly with successive passes.
Stop what you're doing and watch this over and over again (volume on)!
An incredible team try featuring Pete, RG, Rowan Osborne, Jeremy Loughman, Gav Coombes, Chris Cloete, Keynan Knox, Rowan (again), Haley, Goggin, Zebo & the Thomond Roar (@MRSC16) ❤️#MUNvSHA #URC #SUAF 🔴
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) September 28, 2021
Having Zebo on the wing or joining the line from fullback gives Munster players confidence that their good work will be finished. He's a finisher. He always has been. Zebo has also always been a character and his influence in the dressing room will be felt in one way or another.
Zebo's flair and excitement bring a balance that is otherwise lacking. With the tradition of Munster and the identity of the coach, Munster need someone who can just create as he goes. Zebo has that creativity and the natural instincts to try things other players won't.
"There's a question sometimes around that natural flair and x-factor spark, he brings that, " Quinlan said.
"His first try in Thomond Park against the Sharks, the reaction. We were both there. It was just like the prodigal son has returned...people want to see that excitement again from Zebo."
Briggs added, "He wasn't even near the ball at times and chants were going out from the crowd of 'Zebo, Zebo, Zebo' and of course he was lapping it up. He was loving it. I think it was a very shrewd move by Munster to bring him back. I thought it was very intelligent."
"It felt like a full Thomond Park when he got the ball and that's what he does."
Briggs believes that Zebo will have a positive influence on younger players at the province.
"Shane Daley and Calvin Nash especially, I really think like it's going to be a big year for him I thought he was exceptional the other day. They're going to learn a huge amount from him. They both have the ability to have flair.
"Their footwork is incredible and their speed over the ground is very good.
"He can bring that out of players. The more we get to see him play, the more we see him play with Joey Carbery especially, the more off-the-cuff stuff we'll see because he draws that out of people. He sees things differently and you always need that in your rugby squad."