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Thursday 19 October 2017

Toner still emerging out of the shadow left by a giant

Devin Toner (SPORTSFILE)
Devin Toner (SPORTSFILE)

The grieving process is hardest after all the shock and immediate outpouring of emotion has died down.

It is in that limbo life of no man's land that the loss is felt deepest by those closest.

And so it goes that the retirement of Paul O'Connell is only now beginning to crystallise, most obviously at the lineout where Ireland recouped the unacceptable return of 63.6% against England from eleven lineouts, four of which were lost

Devin Toner is Ireland's lineout leader: "How do I react to it? See what went wrong, I suppose," he said.

"We had a good plan going into it, but all credit to (George) Kruis, he kinda second guessed me.

"A lot of the time it's a bit of guesswork, like sometimes he stayed and sometimes he went in front of me.

"I've been looking back over what went wrong and looking at how Italy defend and build another plan.

"For every different game you have different plans and different formulas to go into it, so I've just been studying, basically."

Toner will know O'Connell was fallible too. There were a few days when the reputation wasn't supported out by the statistics.

For instance, Ireland could only capture 66.7% of their throws, or eight out of twelve, against Wales last season. That was their Grand Slam gone.

In fact, Toner has overseen 88.9% and 81.8% gains against Wales and France this season which stacks up well.

It is not about how you fall, but how you bounce back up.

"Over the years, you learn that if a couple don't go your way then it's not the end of the world.

"We know we're a good lineout, we kinda know that, we've got good processes, so I think it's just been able to put it behind us and move on."

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