Rugby

Recent form left Joe Schmidt with no choice but to omit Devin Toner


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Where certain analysts have been quick to condemn Joe Schmidt's exclusion of Devin Toner from his World Cup plans, the Leinster lock has shown little by way of recent form to justify his place in the 31-man squad. 

There was an objective sense of brutality surrounding Joe Schmidt's decision to omit Devin Toner from his World Cup plans.

With almost a decade of international experience to his name, Toner's eleventh-hour replacement came by way of South African-born project player, Jean Kleyn.

Although Cian Tracey was quick to dismiss the notion that it had been a direct shoot-out between both players on Tuesday's OTB AM, the cruel fact remained that Devin Toner had been overlooked in favour of a player who made his international breakthrough a matter of weeks ago.

"It's incredibly harsh on Devin Toner," suggested Tracey, "but I'm not sure what we've seen from him in this pre-season to suggest that he should have been a shoo-in."

Fuelled by a sense of injustice at Schmidt's decision, rugby analyst Matt Williams argued that the decision represented the New Zealander's waning hunger for the fight.

Describing Schmidt's exclusion of Toner in favour of Kleyn as evidence of "a regime [that is] out of touch with the team" in his Irish Times column, Tracey understood the call as indicative of the head coach's ruthlessness and determination to succeed.

"This has been on the cards for a while," suggested Tracey.

"In the last few weeks it had been mentioned to me, but I didn't take much notice. I thought there was no way that Devin Toner was not going to the World Cup.

"But Devin Toner has struggled this season and he's a bit like Jamie Heaslip in that he'd never really had any injuries and now all of a sudden he's gotten an injury and it has really slowed him down.

"When he came off the bench last week [against Wales] he was slow to get to things and was probably a bit fortunate not to get cited.

"These things would be on Joe Schmidt's mind."

Losing out in favour of a second-row quartet of James Ryan, Iain Henderson, Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne, it remains to be seen whether this outing will be Toner's last in an Irish jersey.


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Devin Toner Irish Rugby Football Union Joe Schmidt Rugby World Cup

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