Ireland out-half Johnny Sexton admits he was surprised by Simon Zebo’s decision to leave Munster which could bring an end to his international career at the end of the season.
The province confirmed yesterday that the 27-year-old will depart next summer, and while his destination remains unknown, it is believed he will move to France for the next chapter in his career.
Racing 92 are favourites to sign the versatile back, and Sexton, who spent two seasons at the Parisian club, and admitted he was expecting the fans’ favourite to remain at Thomond Park.
"Simon is a big part of Munster," he told RTÉ Sport. "He’s a big character in the dressing room . I was surprised to hear that he left, but I don’t know the circumstances.
"I don’t know if contracts were brought into it, or if he just wanted to try something different for a few years.
"It’s hard to make a judgement. There are different circumstances for every person.
"He’ll go well, but he will just have to be careful with all the bread, desserts and red wine flying around."
"What I can advise could be different for somebody else," he said, adding that he hadn’t spoken to his provincial rival about a move abroad.
It does however bring Zebo’s international career into doubt.
Sexton was a rare exception of a player plying his trade overseas and getting selected for Test duties when fit. Joe Schmidt’s general was always considered for selection, but that policy hasn’t applied to others in the New Zealander’s time in charge.
The 32-year-old believes this would have made the decision even more difficult.
"I don’t know if it’s set in stone, but it seems like they are not going to pick guys that are playing abroad. I’m sure Simon had a very difficult decision to make, giving up his international career to move abroad."
The 2013 Lions tourist has been in electric form for Munster this season and is expected to be named in Schmidt’s Ireland squad for the November series having established himself as an integral member of the team over the past couple of years.
If Zebo does link up with Ronan O’Gara at Racing 92, Sexton expects the Cork native to thrive both on and off the field.
"He’ll be living in a great city if it is Paris. I’m sure he’ll love it.
"He’ll go well, but he will just have to be careful with all the bread, desserts and red wine flying around.
"Once he stays away from that, he’ll be alright."
Aer Lingus ambassador Johnny Sexton was speaking to students at Castleknock College.