Simon Zebo: Laidlaw will hope Poite isn’t reffing him at the World Cup

Racing star Simon Zebo has his say on a contentious and sometimes spiky affair between Scotland and Ireland in the Six Nations last weekend…


The Scots are a very dangerous team, with some key players who are able to do great things. But, it was clear on Saturday that defence wins championships.

Ireland’s rearguard proved to be the deciding factor in the game.

They forced themselves on Scotland and bullied them a bit. When someone’s coming to hit you at 100 miles an hour the accuracy of your pass might slip a little, you might be waiting for the big hit to come and things like that play on your mind.

The defensive plan got in the heads of Scotland a little bit and won Ireland the game. It will give the boys confidence, especially away from home when the Scots have their tails up.

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Pays to be polite to Poite

I thought one of two decisions didn’t go Scotland’s way that could’ve, but at this level you have to rely on your performance. If you need referees to make decisions or see the minuscule things in a match for you to win, then you’re not playing the right way.

I thought Romain Poite had a good game. But, Greig Laidlaw was obviously a bit frustrated in the heat of the moment. He’s the captain of the side, he’s just put in a big 80 minutes, and I reckon he’s probably reacted a bit differently than others would towards the ref – putting it nicely.

When you come off the pitch you can be a bit hot-headed if you’re after losing at home, so I can understand his emotions.

Referees get reviewed as heavily as the players, so if there were refs with grudges against certain teams then it would get picked up fairly lively. At the same time with those 50-50 calls, you don’t want the ref pissed off at you because those decisions can tend to go a long way in tight games.

If Greig is playing in a World Cup match, I hope he doesn’t get Romain Poite reffing him though.

Hits on both sides were borderline, but fair

Peter O’Mahony’s hit on Stuart Hogg was a close one.

I wasn’t sure which way I was swinging on it, but in the heat of the moment they’re tough decisions to make. It worked out well for Ireland and it probably affected Scotland a little bit, but regardless of whether Hogg was on the pitch or not, Ireland were going to win.

As for Johnny Sexton, he’s one of the best players in the world at the moment. He operates on the edge, he plays up to the line, he’s not afraid to take a hit and he’ll take it if it means somebody will go through a gap.

That’s the kind of guy he is. Johnny’s a leader, a great player and I hope he gets back fit very fast.

Teams go to attack star players and say if get at him today that’ll give us a big chance of winning.

You’d be naive to believe teams don’t man-mark or go head-hunting certain players, you have to try and get the best players off their game somehow.

If it means hitting them extra hard or bordering on the edge of that fraction too late, that’s what teams have to do to win. Johnny plays on the line and some teams when they’re playing against him, it’s probably on the edge as well.

That’s just the way it is. It’s test footy, and it’s good to watch.


Carbery class there for all to see

It showed his mental toughness from Joey Carbery to be able to come back and perform so well in a hostile environment like Murrayfield after helping the other score try like that.

Obviously, it wouldn’t have done much for his confidence, but to bounce back like that showed great resilience.

He’s a great player and he’s got the mental strength to back it up too.

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