Saturday 21 September 2019

Devin Toner set to be the big omission from Joe Schmidt's 31-man squad for Japan

Devin Toner of Ireland high fives James Ryan, as he comes on to replace him as a substitute, during the Under Armour Summer Series 2019 match between Wales and Ireland at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Devin Toner of Ireland high fives James Ryan, as he comes on to replace him as a substitute, during the Under Armour Summer Series 2019 match between Wales and Ireland at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Joe Schmidt looks set to omit Devin Toner from his 31-man squad for the World Cup when he submits it today.

The 67-times capped second-row has been a fixture in the Irish set-up and a key man in the 2014, 2015 and 2018 Six Nations wins, but an ill-timed run of injuries last season and the emergence of South African lock Jean Kleyn, who qualified on residency last month, appears to have edged him out.

As he anticipates a fast-paced World Cup on quick pitches in Japan, Schmidt is trying to pick a dynamic squad and Toner is one of those who appears to have missed out despite his set-piece excellence.

That means Kleyn joins first-choice pairing Iain Henderson and James Ryan, with Tadhg Beirne covering second-row and back-row.

Toner's omission is not the only surprise in the 31-man squad Schmidt is submitting to World Rugby today, with Rhys Ruddock now expected to get the nod ahead of Jordi Murphy and Luke McGrath appearing to edge out Kieran Marmion as the second scrum-half.

Ruddock captained Ireland in their opening warm-up game but hasn't featured since. The versatile Murphy seemed set to go having come off the bench last weekend, but his former Leinster colleague is now in pole position to join CJ Stander, Jack Conan, Peter O'Mahony and Josh van der Flier on the plane.

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In the front-row, Jack McGrath is another high profile, but more expected omission as Cian Healy and Dave Kilcoyne get the nod.

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Sean Cronin and Niall Scannell are set to join Rory Best as hookers, while Tadhg Furlong, John Ryan and Andrew Porter will travel.

With Joey Carbery and Keith Earls likely to be declared fit to travel, Chris Farrell, Ross Byrne and Dave Kearney look likely to miss out behind the scrum.

Will Addison and Andrew Conway played well enough in Cardiff last weekend to secure their spots, with Jordan Larmour remaining in favour.

Carbery will join Johnny Sexton and Jack Carty at out-half, while Leinster's McGrath looks set to be given the nod ahead of Marmion.

That call was always tight, but the Connacht man will be bitterly disappointed having started wins over England and New Zealand during this World Cup cycle.

Schmidt is due to submit his squad to World Rugby today, but can make changes before the squad depart for Japan in cases of injury.

He does not plan to release the panel publicly until Sunday, after Ireland's final warm-up game against Wales at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Possible Ireland World Cup squad: Backs: R Kearney, W Addison, J Larmour, K Earls, J Stockdale, A Conway, R Henshaw, B Aki, G Ringrose, J Sexton, J Carbery, J Carty, C Murray, L McGrath. Forwards: C Healy, D Kilcoyne, R Best (capt), N Scannell, S Cronin, T Furlong, A Porter, John Ryan, James Ryan, I Henderson, J Kleyn, T Beirne, CJ Stander, P O'Mahony, J van der Flier, J Conan, R Ruddock.

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