Joe Schmidt Reveals The Real Reason Devin Toner Was Left Out Of Ireland’s World Cup Squad

Spot on.

You might remember shortly after news broke that Devin Toner was set to be left out of Ireland’s Rugby World Cup squad for Japan, we went with a story suggesting the threat of possible ban is the reason Joe Schmidt wouldn’t select him.

Some of you scoffed at us, but footage of a dangerous clearout from Toner against Wales in Ireland’s final warm-up game didn’t look great. And we suggested Schmidt opted not to select him in case he ended up being cited.

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In the end, Toner escaped any punishment, but it appears Schmidt did, in fact, share the same concern as us, despite telling the media otherwise at the time.

Writing in his new book, Ordinary Joe, which was released yesterday, the former Ireland boss pointed to a similar offence by New Zealand’s Scott Barrett in the Rugby Championship that had him worried about selecting Toner.

“One very tough decision was leaving Devin Toner out of the squad,” Schmidt wrote.

“Dev had been late to get started in the pre-season due to an injury, but he was a known quantity for us. We had hoped that he’d solve a few lineout issues when he came on against England, but we were also realistic that one person cannot completely change something which has so many working parts.

“One issue for us was that we had been alerted that the citing commissioner was looking at an incident close to our line in the seventy-fifth minute when Dev made shoulder contact with Rob Evans.

“We hadn’t noticed the contact at the time but we reviewed the footage and it didn’t look good. We could see that there was nothing deliberate from Dev but that his shoulder had impacted directly onto Rob Evans’s head. 

“After Scott Barrett’s red card and suspension over a shoulder charge in the Rugby Championship, we fretted that Dev would incur a similar sanction. We had been warned by Alain Rolland, in his presentation to us, that any shoulder-to-head contact was likely to have a starting point of a six-week suspension.

“It was a difficult call, but we decided to select Tadhg Beirne, who can play both second row and back row, and Jean Kleyn, the only specialist tighthead-scrummaging second-row in the squad.”