Joe Schmidt on his three 'incredibly tough' World Cup squad decisions
Six days ahead of schedule but a slick video produced and turned around in no time.
Joe Schmidt is known for his meticulousness, so Monday morning's events may well have irked him. On the other hand, the Band-Aid has been ripped off and life goes on.
The IRFU were planning on announcing their World Cup squad on Sunday afternoon but that timeline was torpedoed when journalists and well-placed sources started to get waft of the big decisions:
- Devin Toner, Jordi Murphy and Kieran Marmion missing out
- Jean Kleyn making the cut, along with Rhys Ruddock and Luke McGrath
There was talk, too of Rob Herring getting selected ahead of Sean Cronin and Will Addison making the plane to Japan over Chris Farrell but both of those rumours proved to be just that.
The official squad was announced, just after 1pm, and the cat was out of the bag. Farrell and Cronin both made the 31-man squad, as did Kleyn, Ruddock and Luke McGrath. Also included were a trio of players - Johnny Sexton, Robbie Henshaw and Keith Earls - yet to feature in the World Cup warm-up games.
The big calls were discussed by Barry Murphy, Andrew Trimble and Jerry Flannery on the latest episode of Baz & Andrew's House of Rugby.
Soon after the announcement, Irish Rugby TV released a sit-down interview between Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt and RTE reporter Michael Corcoran. During the 10-minute video, Schmidt spoke of how hard it was to choose three specialist second- and back-rows from five and filling those units out with the versatile Ruddock, Tadhg Beirne and Iain Henderson.
Schmidt also touched on the three players it was "incredibly tough" to leave out of his 31-man selection:
"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."
"It was an incredibly tough decision... when you have a guy who is such a quintessential team member and a guy who has done fantastic stuff for us."
"Unfortunately for Will, it all just came a little bit too late. He picked up a little bit of a calf niggle after having come back and not having played the back end of the season, and he didn't have that much time with us."
There were also honourable mentions for Dave Kearney and Jordi Murphy, while Schmidt stressed that he knows there is real quality in reserve.