Zebo knew he was fullback 'when team was announced'

Munster winger Simon Zebo has revealed that he didn't know he was going to play at fullback for Ireland, a position he has never played before, until a couple of days before the South Africa game.

Injury-hit Ireland were beaten 16-12 by South Africa in their Guinness Series opener, a result that raises the stakes yet higher for their critical showdown with Argentina in two weeks.

Asked when did he know he was going to play fullback, Zebo said: "It wasn't really set in stone last week, I was slotting in and out with Tommy (Bowe) and Earlsy (Keith Earls) at one stage, but it was just towards the end of the week that I got an idea I was playing 15, which was something new.

"I suppose when the team was officially announced there was that bit of excitement."

However, Zebo insists there was no problem for him playing in that position.

He said: "I would be a confident enough player anyway, I wouldn't worry about playing 15 or outhalf, as long as I was wearing the Ireland shirt I was happy.

The Springboks tested him early in the game with some high balls which didn't seem to faze the Munster player.

"I was just looking for my first touch of the ball as soon as the whistle blew and thankfully it came straight away. As soon as I took the high ball I felt comfortable."

While Fiji are the next opponents in Saturday’s non-cap international at Thomond Park, it is the showdown with Argentina on November 24 that will dominate the management’s thinking.

At stake are ranking points crucial to next month’s draw for the 2015 World Cup with defeat to the Pumas, convincing winners against Wales on Saturday, potentially dropping Ireland into the third tier of seeds.

A pool featuring New Zealand and France would plunge Lansdowne Road into despair, but Zebo is confident that such a scenario will be avoided.

“If we’d been battered by South Africa and lost the game with no chance of winning then you could say something and we’d be feeling sorry for ourselves,” Zebo said.

“But the fact is we had a great first half and were in touching distance throughout the whole game.

“If we were not making chances to score and win we’d be saying something. But the fact is we did, we just didn’t take them.

“That was just a little rustiness and hopefully we can remedy that in the next couple of weeks.”

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