5 Talking Points As Ireland Name Their 31-Man Rugby World Cup Squad
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Ireland this afternoon named their 31-man Rugby World Cup squad for Japan – six days earlier than expected after a number of key decisions were leaked to the press this morning.
Joe Schmidt was set to officially announce his squad on Sunday, but with World Rugby requiring nations to submit their squad today – a leak was always going to be a possibility.
Here are five talking points.
No big Dev.
The giant second-row is the biggest omission of all (literally), with Munster’s Jean Kleyn instead set to travel to Japan. Toner has always been seen as Ireland’s key man in the lineout with many puzzled by the decision, especially given Ireland’s recent set-piece frailties. But with footage emerging of a dangerous clear-out in the win over Wales, perhaps the Ireland coaching team opted to leave him out in case he picks up a ban?
McGrath over Marmion.
A big decision here with Schmidt only bringing two nines. Murray was always going to travel with McGrath and Marmion battling it out for the other spot. Most people had Marmion travelling but Schmidt has decided to go with the electric McGrath. Two very different scrum-halves, with Schmidt perhaps going for the riskier option.
Will Addison is staying at home.
The versatile Ulster back made his return against Wales on Saturday after a lengthy period out injured, and seriously impressed at fullback. But it appears he hasn’t done enough in Schmidt’s eyes, with the Ireland boss opting to bring Munster’s Chris Farrell instead. A really surprising decision, especially considering Addison’s versatility.
Kilcoyne gets rewarded.
The Munster loosehead made his first warm-up start against Wales on Saturday and put down his best ever 40 minutes in a green jersey, leaving Schmidt no choice but to bring him over, Jack McGrath. A massive opportunity for the Limerick prop who has been nothing short of fantastic this season.
Ruddock over Murphy.
Another surprising decision here. Ruddock is a fine player, but Murphy has been a revelation for Ulster since joining them and offers that little bit more versatility. The decision perhaps to move Peter O’Mahony to openside, with Tadhg Beirne an option at six perhaps enough to make Schmidt rethink his selection.