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Luke and Tomas will be gutted today about not making the squad. I was, when it happened to me

THE term "sport is cruel" is regularly overused but yesterday morning nearly a quarter of what had been the Ireland training squad for the upcoming World Cup got the news that they have been dreading all summer, when they were told by Declan Kidney that they weren't in his original panel to fly down to New Zealand next week.

The level of sacrifice that these players will have made is just as much -- if not more -- than some of those travelling, yet they will get none of the rewards. I missed out on selection for the World Cup in both 2003 and 2007 and they were both amongst the most difficult times of my career.

The waiting was by far the worst part, however, and once you know the coaches' decision it's a case of dealing with that in your own way and starting to reset your goals and getting on with the day job. The worst feeling for me was the feeling of having let down your family and friends who may have been planning a trip to the tournament.

Declan Kidney surprised a few people with his decision to go with a 16 forwards and 14 backs split and I feel this was mainly down to the lack of props playing sufficiently well at his disposal.

Travelling with only four means that if one is injured in live scrummaging at training then it becomes impossible, so it is quite a risk to take.

The two players who are the unluckiest are without a doubt Luke Fitzgerald and Tomas O'Leary -- but for different reasons. Luke has been on the comeback trail from a serious injury and, while he has some poor matches at the end of last season, I felt that he was just starting to hit form and made a significant impact on saturday against France when he came off the bench.

Both Tomas and Luke were selected for the Lions Tour in 2009 and Luke was a Lions Test player, so their quality is undoubted. Luke and Johnny Sexton are the two strongest players mentally that I played with and I have no doubt that back in the Leinster environment, where he will now be a senior player during the World Cup, he will prove his ability and use this setback to make him better.

Tomas O'Leary's case is more difficult as he hasn't been the same player since his ankle break ruled him out of the Lions tour in 2009. His game has always been built on his speed and power rather than skill and technical ability as a scrum half and the injury seems to have affected him badly.

He has gone from being first choice number nine whenever fit to fourth choice and it's unlikely that he could have seen his omission coming whereas Luke would have realised that he was on the borderline. For Declan to leave out a player who he has always rated and backed shows his ruthless side and will have shocked even some of the players selected -- although that's no bad thing.

With the squad picked, everyone can now concentrate on the singular task of success at the competition and with three losses from three, we need a win over England this weekend to start to build momentum.

For those left out they will live in hope of an injury which, in rugby, can happen at any time. Geordan Murphy was told last week that he wouldn't be travelling and Felix Jones' ankle injury against France opened up the door for him to travel.

Expect to see some players make Declan Kidney regret his decision over the coming months -- and that is the reaction Declan will want.


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