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Wednesday 28 June 2017

'Everybody gave it everything but we'll be back': Reds' Zebo

Munster’s Simon Zebo, with his son Jacob, after the game. Photo: Sportsfile
Munster’s Simon Zebo, with his son Jacob, after the game. Photo: Sportsfile

Munster are where Saracens have been and where they used to be themselves.

It took the legends of 2006 and 2008 multiple gut-wrenching defeats in two quarter-finals in 1999 and 2005, three semi-finals in 2001, 2003 and 2004 and two finals in 2000 and 2002 to learn all the lessons necessary. The current champions felt the pain of loss from one quarter-final in 2015, three semi-finals in 2008, 2013 and 2015 and one final in 2014 before the elation of glory last season.

It could be a long, winding road back to the peak for Munster in what is an increasingly competitive market place.

Their Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus committed to staying at Munster for the three years of his contract, despite speculation to the contrary.

"We've come this far in nine-ten months," said the South African.

"We are pretty close to where we want to be. We will be better in one year's time, in two years, in three years.

"We have to get more strings in our bow, have more options. We can't have just one game-plan."

DEMISE

It was the inabiilty to change what wasn't working that cost Munster the territory and, ultimately, the two tries that led to their demise in what has been a dramatic Champions Cup campaign.

The heartbreak of a big game defeat left Simon Zebo hunched and isolated at the final whistle.

"It was a dejected feeling. You come into a match hoping for one outcome and it goes the other way.

"It was just one of those moments," said Munster's full-back.

"I've been in quite a few losing quarter-finals and semi-finals in the knockout stages of Europe. It doesn't get an easier, the older you get."

Munster did rattle Saracens in the first quarter without ever drawing enough points out of them.

ATTACK

"From our point of view, we decided to attack them where we felt we could get into the game. That was through the air, through our maul and making sure we have a very good set-piece.

"But, Saracens are very good at disrupting what other teams want to do to them," he added.

The extra incentive to honour the memory of Anthony Foley could not make the difference this time.

"We set out when tragedy struck to give everything we had in this shirt for Anthony and for his family, for his supporters and for each other.

"If it's an execution or a skill that lets us down, okay, we can live with that.

"But, an effort error was certainly not on the cards," stated Zebo. "We're obviously really disappointed and upset. But, everybody gave it their everything.

"We came up short. But, we will be back."

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