SIMON Zebo still hasn't given up hope of pulling on the Irish jersey again.
The Cork man hasn't been considered by Ireland coach Joe Schmidt since he moved from Munster to Racing 92, despite his excellent form with the French side.
Ireland's defeat to England in their Six Nations opener last weekend could be cited as evidence that Zebo, Paddy Power's rugby ambassador, would be a real addition to the group.
“My phone is always on. I've two phones and they both work, so we'll have to see,” said Zebo.
“It's hugely flattering (the fans want me back), it's really nice and it means a lot to me. I'll just keep on chasing and trying to give the coaches a few headaches by playing well.”
The dream would be an Irish return in time for the World Cup later this year.
“Hopefully, we'll go a long way in the tournament in the Champions Cup with Racing and do well in the Top 14, like we've been doing. All I can do is play my best rugby and give them decisions to make come World Cup time. For now, I'll lay low, under the radar and keep doing my best. That's all I can do.”
For this weekend's trip to Murrayfield, Zebo expects Ireland to come out firing.
“I see Ireland coming out with the same intensity that England did at the Aviva last Saturday and really sticking it to the Scots. They're going to be hurting, they're a wounded beast now and Scotland have their tails up after a bonus point victory over Italy. So, it's going to be a very close game, I fancy Ireland to win it by a couple of points.”
He expects Schmidt to stick to the process, given how well Ireland played in 2018.
“There's a lot of injuries so Joe's hand will be forced on a couple of them, but he tends to stick with what he knows. I'm sure he'll give Robbie Henshaw another crack at full-back or else in the centre because he's too valuable not to have on the pitch.
“I'd say he's going to stick to his tried and tested like he always does and see how it goes. I've no doubt though that the players will put in a big performance and bounce back to put in a big performance against Scotland.”
The Leesider concedes his former Munster team-mate CJ Stander, out for four weeks with a facial injury, will be a significant loss.
“CJ is a leader off the pitch. He's a guy who has found his voice in the last couple of years in the changing room and he backs that up on the pitch. He'll be a big loss for Ireland in terms of ball carrying, work rate and defence.”