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Joe Schmidt looks set to omit Devin Toner from his 31-man squad for the World Cup when he submits it today.
The 67-times capped second-row has been a fixture in the Irish set-up and a key man in the 2014, 2015 and 2018 Six Nations wins, but an ill-timed run of injuries last season and the emergence of South African lock Jean Kleyn, who qualified on residency last month, appears to have edged him out.
As he anticipates a fast-paced World Cup on quick pitches in Japan, Schmidt is trying to pick a dynamic squad and Toner is one of those who appears to have missed out despite his set-piece excellence.
That means Kleyn joins first-choice pairing Iain Henderson and James Ryan, with Tadhg Beirne covering second-row and back-row.
Toner’s omission is not the only surprise in the 31-man squad Schmidt is submitting to World Rugby today, with Rhys Ruddock now expected to get the nod ahead of Jordi Murphy and Luke McGrath appearing to edge out Kieran Marmion as the second scrum-half.
Ruddock captained Ireland in their opening warm-up game but hasn’t featured since. The versatile Murphy seemed set to go having come off the bench last weekend, but his former Leinster colleague is now in pole position to join CJ Stander, Jack Conan, Peter O’Mahony and Josh van der Flier on the plane.
Read more here:
- On the plane to Japan: Joe Schmidt aims to keep World Cup squad under wraps for a week
- Carbery and Earls to get all clear: Predicted Ireland squad as Joe Schmidt makes final calls on W
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