Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has explained a number of the tough calls he had to make in finalising his 31-man squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
One of the biggest omissions is that of Devin Toner who has been left out for Munster’s Jean Kleyn.
Schmidt told Irish Rugby TV that it was a difficult conversation.
“I’ve coached Dev for ten years,” Schmidt said. “He’s not just a lineout champion for us, he’s such a good player and an absolutely quality person. That was an incredibly tough conversation yesterday.
“Jean Kleyn? We probably don’t have a specialist tight-head second row. At the start, I talked about the balance that we’re looking for across that squad of 31. Jean Kleyn fitted that.
“Tadhg Beirne gives you the versatility of both a second-row and he’s teamed up with Jean Kleyn really well at Munster this year. But he also gives you the threat over the ball like a six or a seven would and he can play in the back-row, obviously, he did for us at the weekend.
“You’ve got James Ryan who made an immediate impression coming into the side and Iain Henderson who’s promised so much and performed incredibly well for us at times. We’re going to very much need him to put his best foot forward.
“So, it was a very tight decision around Dev as well.”