Six Nations

Ireland's Toner relishing 'pinnacle' trip to Twickenham

Devin Toner (TEAMtalk media)
Devin Toner (TEAMtalk media)

Twickenham - Devin Toner is determined to make the most of his Ireland recall as he prepares for a "pinnacle" Six Nations match against England at Twickenham on Sunday.

The giant lock's international career came to a shuddering halt when he was a surprise omission from then head coach Joe Schmidt's squad for last year's World Cup in Japan.

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But he has been brought back into the fold by new Ireland boss Andy Farrell and is set to start a Test for the first time in more than six months as the visitors look to complete a Triple Crown and continue their bid for a Grand Slam following wins over Scotland and Wales.

Toner, 33, was only called into the side to play England after Iain Henderson's late withdrawal following the birth of his son.

"It means the world to me," Toner told reporters at Twickenham on Saturday.

"If you'd told me a couple of months ago I'd be starting against England at Twickenham I probably wouldn't have believed you, so (I'm) delighted to get the chance.

"Obviously Hendy was picked to start and he's had a fantastic tournament and obviously delighted for him on the birth of his second child, so he'll be at home getting some sleep - I doubt it!"

The towering Toner, who will be winning his 70th cap, added: "Twickenham is the home of English rugby so it's kind of the pinnacle of your career to play a game for Ireland against England in Twickenham. It's huge for everyone who gets a chance to play here."

Toner came off the bench in both of Ireland's opening Lansdowne Road wins against Scotland and Wales, with the Leinster second row cheered on by his Dublin home crowd.

It's great being back in the environment," said Toner. "I knew there were reasons why I didn't get selected to go to the World Cup and then I just tried to knuckle down at the start of the season with Leinster and that's been going not too bad."

Ireland secured a 2018 Grand Slam at Twickenham but lost twice to England last year, a 32-20 defeat in their Six Nations opener in Dublin followed by a thumping 57-15 reverse in a World Cup warm-up at Twickenham in August.

Toner said the "fear factor" that comes with all away matches would be increased for Ireland by Sunday's fixture being England's first game at Twickenham since they lost the World Cup final to South Africa.

"We've obviously had the game here for the Grand Slam, which was huge, but they've got on top of us the last few times they've played us," said Toner, with England looking to build on a win over Scotland that followed a defeat by France in Paris.

"There's always going to be a fear factor when you're going away from home because everyone loves playing at home and this is obviously their first game back here (since the World Cup) so they're going to have something to prove."

Teams:

England

15 Elliot Daly 14 Jonny May, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Owen Farrell (captain), 11 Jonathan Joseph, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Tom Curry, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Joe Marler

Substitutes: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Charlie Ewels, 21 Ben Earl, 22 Willi Heinz, 23 Henry Slade

Ireland

15 Jordan Larmour, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Jonathan Sexton (captain), 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 James Ryan, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Cian Healy 

Substitutes: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Caelan Doris, 21 John Cooney, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Keith Earls

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England 204 & 15/0 (10 ov)
West Indies 318
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