"I think Simon is great value to have in the squad and he’s got an irresistible charm about him, he’s always smiling and his positivity is great. But by his own standards, he didn’t have a great day in Paris a couple of weeks ago."
While seemingly praising Simon Zebo in spite of his non-involvement in the upcoming 2018 Six Nations, Joe Schmidt's comments about the Racing 92-bound Munster player's form take on added significance.
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Ex-Leinster captain Liam Toland feels it's evidence that the Ireland head coach and Cork man are not on the same wavelength as he said on Wednesday Night Rugby, adding that the comments almost feel patronising.
"I think it's quite a damning thing that Joe Schmidt has said. It's quite a put-down and almost patronising to say he's always a jovial and smiling and he's happy and he's good value to the camp," Toland told Joe.
"I just sense there isn't a great love between the two of them. I don't know why. With that in mind, Joe, I could sit down with you tomorrow and we can pour over videos and I can point out a lot of the irritations in Simon Zebo's game around maybe the attention to detail of some aspects - how he carries into contact, sometimes he can put himself in a poor rucking position etc - but the overwhelming picture he gives me every time is this guy can transition a ball from a really crap position into something really exciting. He can turn a game."
Toland also added that in his view, "it's really, really disappointing" that Zebo won't be involved in the Six Nations.