When Simon Zebo announced his decision to leave Munster at the end of this season for France there was genuine panic at the loss of one of Ireland's true creative backs. Thankfully, the emergence of Andrew Conway, Jordan Larmour and Jacob Stockdale has quelled some of that angst.
In the ultimate midgames move, Racing Metro have announced the signing of Zebo today, just six days before they take on Munster in the Champions Cup.
Zebo has revealed former-Munster man Casey Laulala, who replaced Ronan O'Gara as Racing's skills coach, played a role in convincing him to join the French club. Teddy Thomas also helped persuade the Munster man. In an odd move, Zebo divulged the information in an interview published on his future club's website today.
This "difficult decision", Teddy and Casey helped you take it?
Yes quite. They convinced me by telling me about life at the club, on its own side very family, the fact that we were always there for each other, whether in the team or in the club as a whole. It is important to me that aspect. I like to feel surrounded, like family and I know that in Racing it will be the case. It is also a club that has a long and long history, a tradition, like Munster, but at the same time a very ambitious club, looking to the future and focused on winning. It is the very high level, like Munster, without denying the human side. In this sense the two clubs have a lot in common. I am a very determined person, a real competitor but I also need human warmth in everyday life.
Zebo told the club he plans on returning to France shortly after this weekend's fixture.
Probably late January for a few days, just to visit Meudon, Sceaux, Le Plessis and the surrounding area. I will have to find a house for my family and I, a kindergarten for my son. For my daughter we still have some time!
It's an unusual move for a player currently contracted to a club, to grant an interview to his new club, days before both teams face each other. With Munster just four points clear of Racing, the game is crucial in deciding who tops the pool.
The full interview, which is in French, can be read here.