Toner hits 200 mark

by Stephen Findlater
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FORMER Castleknock College man Devin Toner joined an elite club of six as he led Leinster onto the field last Friday night against Cardiff Blues for their first PRO14 tie of the season.
It was the 31-year-old’s 200th appearance for the province, making his debut in 2006, a career in which he has been part of their three European Cup successes as well as winning 50 international caps since his 2010 debut.
Reflecting on reaching the milestone, the giant 6’10’’ second row said: “It kind of crept up on me. I made my debut in 2006; it seems like only yesterday but on paper, it’s a bit longer!
“Obviously, I owe a lot to Leinster. They have put a huge amount of faith over the years, a lot of work gone in and thankfully it has been rewarded with all the caps.
“I did a lot of work myself but back then and compared to now, the young lads coming out of the academy are far more advanced than I was.
“They seem to be ready a lot younger now so I would be the first to say that Leinster put a lot of faith in me, a lot of work, and I am really grateful for it.
“I was very raw, yeah. I didn’t know my body shape. I was bent in rucks, bent in the scrum and I didn’t know how to get straight or low or how to use my size, I suppose. I learned over the years to use it. I didn’t think I was very impactful, that I drifted a bit. Hopefully I’m a bit better now.
“It’s a fantastic club to play for and to see the kind of people on the list [who have reached 200 caps] of records. To think that I am up there is brilliant.”
He is one of only two in the current squad to have reached the mark – Jamie Heaslip is the other – and is 57 short of current record holder Gordon D’Arcy.
Against the Blues, Toner played the full 80 minutes in Leinster’s second league outing, one which ended with a flurry of tries.
They run out 37-9 winners with a bonus point to boot, something that looked a long way off in a tense opening hour with Cardiff in touch before Sean Cronin raced in for a second try.
Barry Daly’s magical ball juggling and Nick McCarthy’s try transformed the final outlook as Leinster now prepare for two ties in South Africa, facing the Southern Kings on Saturday before meeting the Cheetahs on September 22.
Toner did not travel with the squad as he and his wife are expecting a baby in the coming weeks.

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