Agustin Pichot has taken to Twitter to outline his dissapointment at the circumstances surrounding Devin Toner’s exclusion from Ireland’s World Cup squad.
Toner was the surprise omission from the 31 man squad announced by Joe Schmidt on Monday, with the Ireland head coach calling up Munster’s Jean Kleyn instead. Kleyn only became eligible for Ireland on August 8, having moved from South Africa three years ago. As a result, he has only earned two caps for Ireland before his selection to go to Japan.
Schmidt’s decision to select someone who has only recently qualified has come under some scrutiny, as has World Rugby’s qualification ruling. Although the required residency period to qualify for a country has now increased to five years, some fans are still disappointed to see a player parachuted in at the expense of a 67-cap international.
World Rugby vice-president Pichot was one of the most prominent voices to outlay his frustration with the decision, stating that Toner should “be asking WR [World Rugby] for answers”.
Neither Schmidt nor Kleyn can be blamed for the timing of his availability. If the 26-year-old lock is the better man, then it makes sense that he is selected, regardless of how long he has been eligible to play for Ireland.
However, it was the performances of Kleyn in his games against Italy and England that have not convinced many Ireland fans. The lock was not necessarily poor, but may not have won over enough people to convince them that he should be selected ahead of a tried and tested veteran like Toner.
Ireland’s lineout was woeful against England, an area of the game that Toner reigns supreme, but Kleyn offers more elsewhere on the field and brings a lot of physicality. So there is a genuine debate as to which one is better for Ireland.
Perhaps what swayed Schmidt was the fact that James Ryan will probably start the big games alongside Tadhg Beirne or Iain Henderson, and Kleyn would provide more of a threat from the bench than Toner. But still, after his two performances so far in green, critics remain.
This is what has been said:
If I was Devin Toner ….. I will be asking WR for answers. I feel sorry for him; nothing against for who was properly selected for the RWC19 by the way. But feel that way.
— agustin pichot (@AP9_) September 2, 2019
Are they going to rename the team, the United nations of Ireland
— joe soap (@JoeSoap1976) September 2, 2019
Taking kleyn with practically no experience ahead of toner a really stupid decision
— Paddy (@patrickmurpjy91) September 2, 2019
— Matthew Turner (@MTurner_IRL) September 2, 2019
A huge mistake not bringing Devon Toner.He has never let the country down and was great against the All Blacks.Otherwise it is a great squad.
— Dave J Syms (@RevDaveSyms) September 2, 2019
Our form has been poor, so not confident going into the world cup regardless, but Jean Kleyn ahead of Devin Toner is terrible. Toner never, ever let us down and has been probably our most consistent player for years. Kleyn has two (bang average) performances and he's in? Joke. https://t.co/GYF9PuI2xj
— Keefe McKenna (@KeefeMcKenna) September 2, 2019
No Toner? What a shambles, Kleyn instead of him and only 2 caps to his name??????
— Seán Cresham (@Seanc619619) September 2, 2019
Zero sentiment on JS's part with his final 31, nor should there be. But Toner losing out to Kleyn is a huge call. Cut for a project player, a guy eligible by a matter of days, parachuted into the squad and who failed to make any impression whatsoever in the games he played
— David McIntyre (@DaveMcIntyreIRL) September 2, 2019
Kleyn has absolutely no business being in that squad, sickening. Toner, with the importance of our lineout, should be the first name on the teamsheet. Dillane is also a better player. Looks like Kleyn was picked for this squad 3 years ago when he arrived. It’s an awful decision.
— Brian Conroy (@BrianConroy11) September 2, 2019
Dropping toner for kleyn is insane. Horrendous for squad morale not to mind toner is a better player and the gameplan has been so reliant on him.
— Kieran O'Brien (@KOBrien1977) September 2, 2019
Unfortunately after almost ten years of international rugby, at the age of 33, this looks like it may well be the end of Toner’s Ireland career.
World Cup city guide: Kumamoto
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