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Toner’s tall tale
Nobody wants to flog a dead horse but neither does Devin Toner want the perception to exist that he’s no longer a thoroughbred. Only 33, the towering Leinster lock has been recalled to the extended Ireland panel ahead of the Six Nations.
Equally, nobody can anyone deny Toner’s injury disrupted 2019 forced him to trade largely on reputation during a World Cup pre-season.
Eventually he was going to have to give his perspective on being dropped. This wasn’t any old selection call, here was the discarding of the main structural pillar in Ireland’s set-piece throughout Joe Schmidt’s six years as national coach. Toner didn’t see it coming. Maybe he was a patsy; a misguided warning for the rest of an unravelling squad following the Twickenham humiliation.
“The conversation that I had with Joe was: I wasn’t going because they needed a tighthead lock and that I didn’t show enough in the pre-season games. And then coming to the tail-end of the conversation, he mentioned something about a high hit but like, he never used it as an excuse that I wasn’t going or why I wasn’t getting picked. So when I saw that, to me that’s maybe an excuse, do you know what I mean? I don’t know.”
Toner was never cited for contact with Wales’ Rob Evans in the Cardiff warm-up. Also, the selection of Jean Kleyn as the main reason for his exclusion still does not add up, simply because Munster’s South African was unused in key matches against Scotland, Japan, and the quarter-final thrashing by New Zealand.
The further we move away from it, the worse the decision looks.
3-1 –The result for French clubs against Irish provinces in Champions Cup rugby over the weekend.
Reality bites for Ulster and Munster
European success without a rampaging Fijian suddenly seems impossible. As Virimi Vakatawa all but shredded Munster’s season, Johann van Graan’s side proved once more that bravery and commitment cannot compensate for a lack of quality.
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