Joe Schmidt Explains His Shock Decision To Leave Devin Toner Out Of Ireland’s World Cup Squad

Staying at home.

Ireland boss Joe Schmidt has explained his shock decision to leave Leinster’s Devin Toner out of his 31-man World Cup for Japan.

The lock has been a mainstay under Schmidt and is seen as Ireland’s best lineout option. But the New Zealander has instead opted to bring recently Ireland-qualified Jean Kleyn, along with Tadhg Beirne, Iain Henderson and James Ryan as his four second-rows.

Schmidt says it was an “incredibly tough conversation” but ultimately went with Kleyn because he’s a “specialist tighthead second-row” and with Beirne because of his versatility. Ryan and Henderson meanwhile were obvious choices.

“I’ve coached Dev for 10 years,” Schmidt told Irish Rugby TV

“He’s not just a lineout champion for us, he’s such a good player. He’s an absolutely quality person. It was an incredibly tough conversation yesterday.

“Jean Kleyn, we probably don’t have a specialist tighthead second row as such. I said about the balance that we’re looking for across the squad of 31 – Jean Kleyn fitted that.

“Tadhg Beirne gives you the versatility of both a second-row [and a back-row]. He’s teamed up well with Jean Kleyn in Munster this year. He also gives you that threat over the ball like a six or seven would.

“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.

“It was a very tight decision around Dev.”