The stand out omission from today’s 31-man Ireland Rugby World Cup squad is Devin Toner, the 33-year-old stalwart that most fans would have fully expected to get on that plane to Japan. Instead, residency qualified Munster lock Jean Kleyn is preferred by coach Joe Schmidt.
Rory Best, set to play in his impressive fourth world cup, will captain the squad.
Six of the squad named featured at the previous two Rugby World Cups (2011 & 2015) – Sean Cronin, Keith Earls, Cian Healy, Rob Kearney, Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton, while a further five played in the 2015 tournament – Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, Robbie Henshaw, Peter O’Mahony and Rhys Ruddock.
The remaining 19 players will be making their Rugby World Cup debuts.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) September 2, 2019
Kleyn, who recently qualified on residency after joining Munster in 2016, made his debut against Italy and was then retained against England. His bulk and power up front is the main reason for his selection ahead of Toner, who has played in 50 of Schmidt’s 67 Tests in charge.
“I’ve coached for ten years. He’s an absolutely quality person. That was an incredibly tough conversation yesterday,” said Schmidt.
Ireland are in Pool A and will play Scotland, Japan, Russia and Samoa.
Ireland’s opening fixture is against Scotland at the Yokohama Stadium in Tokyo. Six days later Ireland will take on tournament hosts Japan in Shizuoka before playing Russia in Kobe the following Thursday. Ireland’s final pool game is against Samoa on Saturday 12thin Fukuoka.
Ireland Rugby World Cup Fixtures 2019
IRELAND v Scotland
Yokohama Stadium, Sunday 22nd September, 2019 KO: 08.45 (Irish Time)
IRELAND v Japan
Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, Saturday 28th September, 2019 KO: 08.15 (Irish Time)
IRELAND v Russia
Misaki Stadium, Thursday 3rd October, 2019 KO: 11.15 (Irish Time)
IRELAND v Samoa
Fukuoka Hakatanomi Stadium, Saturday 12th October, 2019 KO: 11.45 (Irish Time)
Ireland RWC19 Squad
Rory Best, CAPTAIN, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Sean Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy, Dave Kilcoyne, Iain Henderson, Jean Kleyn, Peter O’Mahony, Andrew Porter, Rhys Ruddock, James Ryan, John Ryan, Niall Scannell, CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier
Bundee Aki, Joey Carbery, Jack Carty, Andrew Conway, Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Robbie Henshaw, Rob Kearney, Jordan Larmour, Luke McGrath, Conor Murray, Garry Ringrose, Jonathan Sexton, Jacob Stockdale