Devin Toner has reflected on his omission from Ireland’s Rugby World Cup campaign in 2019, admitting he didn’t see his exclusion from the sport’s biggest stage coming.
Then head coach Joe Schmidt’s snubbing of Toner was the biggest talking point when the Rugby World Squad was announced in September, 2019, with the 6’10 lineout specialist seen by many – including himself – as a sure-fire inclusion.
Nearly two years on and the Leinsterman admits he is still ‘disappointed’ with how it ended, despite grabbing three extra caps in the subsequent Six Nations in 2020.
“I was disappointed with how it ended. I didn’t see it coming,” Toner told Jim Hamilton on RugbyPass All Access: ‘[When] I didn’t get picked for the World Cup, it was a huge blow.
“I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t see that there was a chance that I wouldn’t go.”
South African project player Jean Kleyn ended up going to Japan, despite having just one Ireland cap to his name care of a pre-season against Italy. The Munster lock qualified for Ireland on August 8th, played his first game on the 10th and was named in Schmidt’s 31-man squad on September 2nd.
“I don’t know if it was a straight shoot out between the two of us [Jean Kleyn]. I was obviously behind a lot of them.
“Looking back on it, I’m thinking to myself, I didn’t show enough in the pre-season games. I didn’t work hard enough or show enough to be selected.
“I was obviously disappointed with how it ended. But then, in the Six Nations, Faz picked me and I got three more caps.”
Toner broke the Leinster cap record, superseding Gordan D’Arcy’s 261 appearances, all while winning their fourth consecutive PRO14 title against old rivals Munster. But the 34-year-old isn’t planning on retiring, despite having not yet confirmed his immediate playing future beyond the 2020/21 season.
“I’ve got a year or two left in me to be honest,” said Toner, who comes to the end of his Leinster contract this summer, although he could yet stay for a 15th season at the province he has played his entire professional career. “I’m currently still in negotiations. Whatever happens, happens. It’ll probably be released in the next little while.”
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