Thursday 23 November 2017

Devin Toner: I wouldn't be the player I am today without Paul O'Connell

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Devin Toner has been on an upward curve for the past number of seasons and his second row partner in the international set-up could have a lot to do with it.

The Irish lineout was on-song on Saturday as Ireland recorded a 40-10 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield and Leinster star Toner attributes a lot of his recent progression to man he packs down with while on Ireland duty.

"I don't think I would be the player I am today without having played with him," he told Off The Ball on Newstalk.

"I've learned so much off him. I've learned a lot from Leo Cullen, nathan Hines and Malcolm O'Kelly but getting the chance to play with Paulie for these past few seasons has been great for my career.

"How he goes about his business and how he calls lineouts is eye-opening."

Toner was a central figure in Ireland's second try as a subtle flick to Sean O'Brien allowed the Tullow Tank to barge his way over the Scottish line.

"It was a pre-planned move. It's amazing when it comes off exactly how you want it to, it's absolutely perfect," he added.

"We faked to go off the top and slipped it to Seanie because we expected their number 7 to be gone and he shot off.

"I was hoping ti would have been on the other side of the pitch because it would have been in my right hand but it was good in the end.

"For me, as  a second row, when a lineout comes off perfectly it's absolutely great."

It was a great moment for Toner especially given the difficulties the set piece experienced in Cardiff seven days earlier.

"We know we let standards slip. We know we don't turn into a bad lineout team in one game. Our stats have been good all year.

"Paulie is a world class caller and everybody is confident in him and his calling ability. Coming after a game when we lost four lineouts."

As with every other Ireland supporter, Toner watched the final moments in Twickenham through his fingers.

 

"It was ridiculous. To have 90 points scored in a game is completely surreal, but at the end of the game, all our hearts were in our mouths.

It was like 'just kick it out'. Elation at the end."

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