Rugby The big calls Joe Schmidt made finalising Ireland’s World Cup squad

Rugby This is one nice plug-in!

Joe Schmidt’s reasoning for Devin Toner’s exclusion from Ireland’s 31-man World Cup squad is based primarily on scrum power and a belief that Iain Henderson can effectively call the lineout.

The power surge that comes from Jean Kleyn is not expected to be used in Ireland’s crucial Pool A matches against Scotland and Japan. Toner’s removal indicates the secondrow partnership moving forward will be James Ryan and Henderson.

“I’ve coached Dev for 10 years,” Schmidt told RTÉ. “He’s not just a lineout champion for us, he’s such a good player and an absolutely quality person. That was an incredibly tough conversation yesterday [Sunday].

“Jean Kleyn, we probably don’t have a specialist tighthead secondrow. I’ve talked about the balance that we’re looking for across that squad of 31. Jean Kleyn fitted that. Tadhg Beirne gives you the versatility of both a secondrow and he can play in the backrow. He’s teamed up really well with Kleyn for Munster this year. And he also gives you the threat over the ball like a six or a seven would.”

This rationale appears to focus on Pool A games against Russia (October 3rd) and Samoa (October 12th) with Schmidt seemingly picking a squad to fill specific on-field roles.

Kleyn, Beirne and Ruddock are set to fill the second team.

“You’ve got James Ryan who made an immediate impression coming back into the side and Iain Henderson who’s promised so much and performed at times incredibly well for us at times. We’re going to need [Henderson] to very much put his best foot forward.”

This is a warning to Henderson who, with Ryan’s assistance, is now charged with calling the lineout.

The other big cuts – Will Addison, Kieran Marmion, Jordi Murphy and Jack McGrath – were always at risk despite Schmidt attempts to mould each one of them into a regular starter.

Schmidt sees Ringrose as cover at “outhalf, fullback and wing”, another theory that enables him to go with Chris Farrell, as one of three “pure centres” ahead of Addison.

Ringrose has never played fullback or outhalf at any grade.

Andrew Conway’s ability to make attacking reads in the heat of battle secured his selection.

“Unfortunately for Will, it’s all just come a little bit too late for him,” Schmidt explained. “He had a calf niggle when he came back in for pre-season.”

On the possibility of dropping Rory Best, from the starting XV or as the Ireland captain at the tournament, Schmidt said: “I think there is always doubt in your mind when you start a Rugby World Cup build-up because people have to get through the period of hard work. It is testing for everybody, including Rory. I felt he worked really hard, it wasn’t a great day against England but, without taking all the responsibility off the players I knew we were heavy legged.

“I still feel Rory did well at Twickenham despite the lineout not functioning properly. In Cardiff he led the scrum and made a dozen tackles in 20 minutes. That’s not a guy who is miles away from being at his best.”

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