Toner out to lift Irish
Giant Leinster lock Devin Toner hopes to solve Ireland's line-out problems when he makes his debut against Samoa on Saturday.
Last Updated: 10/11/10 10:26am
Giant Leinster lock Devin Toner hopes to solve Ireland's line-out problems when he makes his debut against Samoa in Dublin on Saturday.
The 6ft 10in Toner will make his first Test start in the Aviva Stadium clash as the hosts look to improve on last weekend's poor showing against South Africa.
The 24-year-old has been brought in to boost a flagging line-out that suffered at the hands of the Springboks and was a major reason for the defeat.
Toner is delighted to have been given the nod by Declan Kidney, and feels he can make a difference.
"I'm delighted to be selected, over the moon," Toner said. "I can't wait for the game. Kick-off can't come quick enough.
"I've been involved in the squad before and you're always hoping to be involved in the team. The challenge is to get the line-out right. I like to see myself as a bit of a line-out man.
"I'll do my best and will be leaving no stone unturned in training this week. Donncha O'Callaghan will be playing beside me and he has a wealth of experience."
Toner feels he has benefited from playing alongside Malcolm O'Kelly and Leo Cullen at Leinster, but admits his height causes problems in certain areas of the game.
"Mal and Leo have both had a great influence over me. I've learnt as much as I can from both of them," he said. "My height has presented a few challenges, like when trying to get down low into rucks.
"I'm always working on scrummaging. Getting down low is the biggest challenge."
Toner is included in the starting line-up alongside Leinster colleague Sean O'Brien, who has replaced David Wallace at openside as one of 10 changes in personnel to the side beaten by South Africa.
Head coach Kidney admits it was a close call for O'Brien to miss out against the Springboks.
"Sean played against South Africa last year and has been doing very well in a number of positions in the back row," he said.
"There was a very good argument to play Sean last week, but David got the nod and didn't let anyone down."
The clamour for Ronan O'Gara's recall has been answered with the veteran fly-half selected alongside Peter Stringer in preference to Jonathan Sexton and Eoin Reddan.
The appearance of Munster half-backs O'Gara and Stringer in the last 15 minutes against South Africa transformed Ireland's game.