Monday 24 July 2017

Towering Toner revels in long injury-free spell

Devin Toner: I’ve been lucky to never have a serious injury. Photo: Sportsfile
Devin Toner: I’ve been lucky to never have a serious injury. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

On Monday morning, Leinster's lengthy walking wounded list made for grim reading ahead of a huge European clash against Northampton tonight as seven of the eight of the updates provided had large questions marks over players' fitness.

For Devin Toner, there are no such concerns as he continues his remarkable run in the starting team for both club and country.

The towering lock has added several intricacies to his game over the last couple of seasons, including putting himself about the pitch more and taking and indeed creating more collisions, which is what makes his injury free run all the more impressive.

"Touch wood, I've never really had a serious injury," Toner said.

"I've never had to rehab, it's worked out for me the last few years, I've a fair few minutes under my belt and hopefully I'll have a fair few more.

"I can't pinpoint it (reason why), to be honest. It could be luck. I don't know. It could be my size. I honestly don't know. All I know is that I have been very lucky that I haven't had anything serious, to be honest.

"I look after myself quite well. I take my recovery quite well. That sort of stuff but again, I'm not really sure."

Fresh after signing a new three-year contract extension with Leinster and Ireland, Toner is enjoying his rugby at the moment.

A key figure in Ireland's successful November Series, the Meath native is hoping to bring that kind of form back to the Leinster set-up as they enter the first of two crucial back-to-back meetings with the Saints.

"I've been playing regularly with the international team so I think for me, at the time of my career, it was a good time for me to sign on and stay and play more," he explained.

"There is a huge amount of competition for the second-row at the minute.

"There's no injuries and everyone is raring to go. I think in any one day, anyone can slip in and slip out. I think that just drives on the competition in the squad."

Blues honour U-18 interpro success

Last Friday evening as Leinster faced the Dragons at the RDS, a presentation was made to the Leinster U-18 side that recently triumphed in the Interprovincial series.

"It was in losing to Munster in the first game of the series that we really clicked into gear," the Leinster scrum-half Conrad Daly admits.

"It was hard to listen to the Munster lads celebrating at the final whistle. I suppose nothing ever really beats a local derby to get the blood flowing."

Following a narrow 8-3 defeat at Thomond Park, their return fixtures against Ulster encapsulated the capabilities of Daly's side. Led by Ryan Baird of St Michael's College, Leinster got their aspirations back on track with a battling 10-5 win over the northerners at Donnybrook Stadium.

Then, in vastly different conditions just two weeks later in Belfast, both sides contested an absorbing, fast-paced contest.

"We trained really well in the lead-up to the game in Belfast, but even that couldn't have prepared us for what we faced.

"It was one of the quickest games I've been involved in," Daly of Clongowes says, "but we pulled away to claim a hugely important 21-10 win."

In what was a winner-takes-all decider against Munster, Leinster ensured that their troops did just enough to scrape through on the better side of a 15-13 scoreline.

Irish Independent

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