World Rugby vice-president Agustin Pichot thinks Devin Toner should be asking the governing body “for answers” following his exclusion from Ireland’s World Cup squad.
Toner was left out of the 31-man squad announced by Joe Schmidt yesterday, with the Ireland head coach calling up Munster’s Jean Kleyn instead.
Kleyn only became eligible to play for Ireland last month, having moved from South Africa three years ago, and earned just two caps for the country prior to his selection for the tournament in Japan.
Pichot, who played international rugby for Argentina as a scrum-half, took to social media to express his sympathy for Toner.
“If I was Devin Toner...I will be asking WR (World Rugby) for answers. I feel sorry for him; nothing against for who was properly selected for the RWC19 by the way. But feel that way,” said Pichot on Twiter.
Leinster lock Toner has been one of Schmidt’s most trusted lieutenants since his appointment as Ireland boss in 2013, starting 50 of the Kiwi head coach’s 67 Test matches.
But Kleyn has been given the nod ahead of the 33-year-old, with Schmidt selecting him alongside Iain Henderson, James Ryan and Tadhg Beirne in a four-strong lock cordon.
“To go from 40 players down to 31 was really difficult, but we had a process whereby we looked back through every training, looked through the games,” said head coach Schmidt. “There were some guys who obviously had more experience and probably had more credit in the bank and were more established and there were other guys who were trying to force their way into the group and trying to get a balance of current form versus previous performance.
“It’s always a very, very difficult conundrum to solve.”
Munster’s Chris Farrell has forced his way into Ireland’s four-strong centre ranks ahead of Ulster’s Will Addison, with Bundee Aki, Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose also present.
Rory Best continues as captain as expected, the 37-year-old Ulster hooker already boasting 119 caps.
Leinster’s Luke McGrath has edged out Kieran Marmion at scrum-half, with Ireland taking just two recognised nines to Japan.
Fly-half Joey Carbery will cover scrum-half as an emergency option, with Schmidt taking three 10s.
Jack Carty has won selection ahead of Ross Byrne as Ireland’s third playmaker, with Andrew Conway forcing his way into a five-strong back-three group.
Carbery is recovering from an ankle problem but Ireland insist he will be ready for the Pool A kick-off, against Scotland in Yokohama.
Johnny Sexton suffered a thumb sprain at the start of the summer and has since carried a minor leg bump, but Schmidt insisted after Saturday’s 22-17 win over Wales in Cardiff that the British and Irish Lions star was fully fit.
Ireland hope Sexton will be able to prove his fitness in their final World Cup warm-up match, Saturday’s return clash with Wales in Dublin.
The Ireland squad:
Forwards: R Best (Ulster, capt), T Beirne (Munster), J Conan, S Cronin, T Furlong, C Healy (all Leinster), D Kilcoyne (Munster), I Henderson (Ulster), J Kleyn, P O’Mahony (both Munster), A Porter, R Ruddock, James Ryan (all Leinster), John Ryan, N Scannell, CJ Stander (all Munster), J Van Der Flier (Leinster).
Backs: B Aki (Connacht), J Carbery (Munster), J Carty (Connacht), A Conway, K Earls, C Farrell (all Munster), R Henshaw, R Kearney, J Larmour, L McGrath (all Leinster), C Murray (Munster), G Ringrose, J Sexton (both Leinster), J Stockdale (Ulster).