Sunday 15 September 2019

'You feel for Devin Toner' - ex-Ireland skipper Keith Wood admits shock at second-row's World Cup omission

Devin Toner is the surprise omission from Ireland’s World Cup ranks (Brian Lawless/PA)
Devin Toner is the surprise omission from Ireland’s World Cup ranks (Brian Lawless/PA)

Former Ireland captain Keith Wood has admitted his shock at Devin Toner's failure to land a place in Joe Schmidt's World Cup plans.

But the ex-Munster prop says the IRFU must play by whatever rules are at the disposal of every nation in relation to players being selected under the residency rule.

Earlier today, Ireland head coach Schmidt was cricitised for selecting South African-born Jean Kleyn ahead of Leinster veteran Toner.

Speaking on Newstalk radio's Off The Ball show, Wood said: "You feel for Devin Toner. He's been the mainstay of that second row for the last couple of years.

"It all settles down to Toner and Kleyn and the fact that the residency rules are more or less denying us one of our own.

"It's very tough for Devin. But you look at your coach and he's said 'this is the guy who's going to do a job for me'.

"The choice is he's gone for the extra grunt in the second row."

Wood added "them's the rules" when talking about the residency rule which means a foreign national can play for the country of their residence, provided they have been living there for three years.

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That rule will change to five years in 2020 and Wood believes the level of naturalised talent coming into international rugby will level off.

Wood added that it would be "naive" of the IRFU not to avail of this rule when every other nation in world rugby uses it.

However, the Limerick native spoke of his shock at Toner's omission.

"I have to admit I was sidetracked by that. My presumption was that Toner was going. For me, my presumption (for Toner's omission) was that he was injured," Wood said.

"I know for me I want to see a guy six-foot 11 in there."

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