Ireland have publicly announced their World Cup squad six days ahead of schedule, after a number of high profile omissions were leaked this morning.
Toner’s omission will come as the biggest surprise, with the 67-time capped lock a regular feature in Schmidt’s squads to date. However, he has paid the ultimate price following an injury disrupted end to the season with Leinster.
Schmidt has previously shown huge faith in both Marmion and Murphy, but the pair have not done enough to make the plane for Japan. Ireland will travel with Conor Murray and Luke McGrath as their two scrum-halves for the tournament.
Rhys Ruddock has been included ahead of Murphy. Schmidt’s back row options for Japan will include Peter O’Mahony, CJ Stander, Jack Conan, Josh van der Flier and Ruddock, while Kleyn, Iain Henderson and Tadhg Beirne provide extra cover.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) September 2, 2019
Addison misses out despite offering cover in a number of positions, and a solid performance in Saturday’s 22-17 defeat of Wales. As reported on RugbyPass this morning, Andrew Conway and Chris Farrell are both included.
There is no place for Ulster bound prop Jack McGrath.
As expected, Joey Carbery is included as he continues his recovery from the ankle injury sustained in the opening World Cup warm-up game against Italy. Jack Carty will provide extra cover alongside first choice out-half Johnny Sexton, with Leinster’s Ross Byrne missing out.
Keith Earls is also named despite sitting out all three of Ireland’s warm-up fixtures so far.
In a statement accompanying the squad release, Schmidt said the selection process was “a very very difficult conundrum to try to solve”.
“It was a difficult thing right from the start to have the 45 that we had,” Schmidt said.
‘We went down to 40 players and to go from 40 down to 31 was really difficult, but we had a process whereby we looked back through every training, looked through the games.
“There were some guys who obviously had more experience and probably had more credit in the bank and were more established and there were other guys who were trying to force their way into group and trying to get a balance of current form versus previous performance, it’s always a very very difficult conundrum to try to solve.
“It was one of those typical selection meetings where maybe 20-25 of the players are listed straight away and it’s those ones where you’re are trying to get balance where it’s very difficult to choose between two players and two players offer slightly different things and you’re trying then to narrow down and trying to get the best balance across the squad of the entire 31 because that’s part of what you need to do because you’ve got to make sure you have cover that’s immediate even though you can replace players there is obviously a big time delay in that.”
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) September 2, 2019
In a video released by the IRFU, Schmidt went into further detail on some of the big calls.
“I’ve coached Dev for ten years, and he’s not just a lineout champion for us. He’s such a good player, but he’s an absolutely quality person. That was an incredibly tough conversation yesterday.
“Jean Kleyn, we probably don’t have a specialist tighthead second row, as such. And again, at the start I said about the balance we’re looking for across that squad of 31. So Jean Kleyn fitted that.
“Tadhg Beirne gives you the versatility of both the second row, and he’s teamed up with Jean Kleyn really well in Munster this year. But he also gives you the threat over the ball like a 6 or 7 would, and can play in the back row.”
Schmidt also said that Addison was particularly unlucky to lose out on a spot in the squad.
“I thought Will was really good on Saturday. Unfortunately for Will, it’s all just come a little bit too late. He picked up a little bit of a calf niggle after having come back and not having played the back end of the season, and he hadn’t had that much time with us. But he fits in so well and plays so well.”
Ireland continue their World Cup preparations with a final warm-up game against Wales in Dublin on Saturday.
IRELAND’S 31-MAN WORLD CUP SQUAD
Rory Best, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Dave Kilcoyne, Iain Henderson, Jean Kleyn, Peter O’Mahony, Andrew Porter, Rhys Ruddock, James Ryan, John Ryan, Niall Scannell, CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier
Bundee Aki, Joey Carbery, Jack Carty, Andrew Conway, Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Robbie Henshaw, Rob Kearney, Jordan Larmour, Luke McGrath, Conor Murray, Garry Ringrose, Jonathan Sexton, Jacob Stockdale
World Cup city guide: Kumamoto
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.