Devin Toner: ‘I’d like to think the young lads look up to what I’ve done’

Devin Toner Leinster Ireland

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Devin Toner has been a Leinster player since 2006 and currently has the record for the most appearances in blue with 268.

His name has been a mainstay for years in matchday squads, with this season being his 17th with the province, and he was also an important member of the Irish national side in the previous decade – particularly under Joe Schmidt.

Head Coach Leo Cullen described him as a “hugely influential” figure in the squad at the beginning of the season, noting that he had given the side a talk ahead of their United Rugby Championship match against Glasgow Warriors in October.

The 35-year-old underlined how he sees his role within the squad at Monday’s press conference.

“I’m just a player in the squad, obviously,” Toner said. “Whenever I’m picked to play, I do my best.

“Whenever I’m not picked to play, I do my best to prepare the lads which is like obviously, whoever we’re playing, the opposition we’re playing, we have to prepare their lineouts and prepare them in the game and do what they can.

“I’d like to think the young lads would look up to what I’ve done and, you know, the games that I’ve played and see me as a source of knowledge if they like and ask me whatever they want.

“I’d like to think I’m a bit of an open book for the younger lads and I suppose an ear and a bit of knowledge for them. Hopefully anyway.”

Among the younger lads in the squad is lock Jack Dunne, a 23-year-old who shares the same position as Toner.

Dunne will play for the Barbarians this weekend in Twickenham where they will face Samoa.

The Trinity College forward is coming off of a major ankle injury and returned to action in the All-Ireland League last weekend, with the Baa-Baas now set to make up the next stage of his comeback.

“I’m absolutely delighted for Dunners. He’s had his time with injury in the last while after breaking his ankle and stuff.

“He is a great player and [he’s only 23] but it seems like he has been around for ages. He’s some character, man, and I think he definitely is one for the future.

“He used to be a bit of a lump to try and lift last year but I think, after he got injured he’s kind of leaned down and he you can fly him up in the air now anyway.

“I’d be delighted to see how he gets on with the Barbarians – him and Rob [Kearney] back together again.”

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