"Gutted" Toner wishes Ireland well 10 months ago

"Gutted" Toner wishes Ireland well

It would be very easy for Devin Toner to go off in a huff.

To keep the head down and say nothing at all. Act as if nothing happened.

But Monday's news was big news. It was surprising news. It was definitely tough news to take for Toner, Ireland's ever reliable first choice lock for the majority of this decade. A man who knows nothing only life in that second row, driving Ireland onto better things and catching the ball when he really shouldn't be able to catch it at all.

Dropped from the Ireland squad. Not just at any time. At the most important time. With all the tests and warm-ups almost out of the way, it's almost D-day. Almost time for Tokyo.

But it was then with the build-up at full swing when Toner found out that he wouldn't be going at all. With Joe Schmidt having faced down some tough selection dilemmas, Toner became the fall guy.

Jean Kleyn and Tadhg Beirne were selected and the Moynalvey man was left in a lonely place. A number of former teammates and well versed analysts expressed their surprise and dismay.

Schmidt himself found it almost impossible to drop his loyal lieutenant.

"I've coached Dev for 10 years," said Schmidt. "Not only is he a lineout champion, but a great player and... an absolutely quality person."

What's done is done though. Toner has been around this game long enough to know that moping about the place won't change things and it won't make things better for anyone.

And that's why his reaction to getting the chop is exactly what we knew it would be. Dignified, graceful.

He wished his Ireland teammates well. No sulking. He understands that this isn't personal.

Anybody who's gotten the drop before could learn from him.