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'You don’t miss the training, the nerves building up to a game'

Devin Toner will put his boots on again next week for the Ireland Legends.

DEVIN TONER WILL be digging his boots out next week. The 36-year-old hasn’t had cause to look for them since retiring from rugby at the end of last season.

He has happily given his body a breather after a career that took in 70 Ireland caps and a record 280 for Leinster. Toner says he has done nothing since calling it a day.

But he will tog out for the Ireland Legends against England on St Patrick’s Day at Energia Park, lining up in the second row of a team also set to include the likes of Seán O’Brien, Andrew Trimble, Billy Holland, and Tommy O’Donnell.

Having been blissfully idle in recent months, Toner jokes that he’s already dreading how he’ll feel the following day at the Ireland v England game in the Six Nations.

“I’m not really looking forward to the day after because we have a box in the Aviva in the new job, so I’ll be hoping that I’m fine the day after,” he explains with a smile.

“I’ll be hosting some clients so I can see myself walking around crippled in the box so I’m going to have to get out in the next week or two to do a jog or something.  

“I’ll back myself. Len Dineen [who organises the Ireland Legends games] was saying that I’m kind of like in the academy of the Legends now, I’m one of the youngest there which will be great.”

Toner’s new gig is as the head of partnerships for AskPaul and Pax Financial. The Meath man is enjoying it so far.

“I’m in it about six months and I’m loving it,” he says.

shane-byrne-devin-toner-and-sean-obrien Toner will play for the Ireland Legends on St Patrick's Day. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

“As a rugby player, you always like the structure so it’s a new structure now. It’s great having the weekends back and being able to plan stuff, holidays. You were in it for so long and I was able to go out on my own terms.”

Toner has moved on quickly from the professional game and says he’s not watching a huge amount of rugby. When he does, it’s invariably while enjoying a few pints.

Even in the corporate box at the Aviva, he isn’t watching in much detail as he speaks to clients. While Toner has obviously been impressed with Ireland’s continued good form, he can’t say much about the specifics of their lineout.

He doesn’t appear to miss being on the inside of what the players themselves call ‘the bubble’ that is the pro game.

“You don’t miss the training, the nerves building up to a game, you don’t miss things like that,” says Toner.

“The big games, you do, the atmosphere, that home France game in the Six Nations. You do kind of miss when the anthems start playing, a big win, and the nights out after back in the Shelbourne.

“You do kind of miss that but overall I don’t miss the play and the preparation and being ‘on’ all the time. Little bits but in general, no, I feel very good about it. I love going and supporting at the games now as well. It’s good still being involved having a box there and chatting to some of the lads. “

Toner was able to witness James Ryan’s superb form up close at the French game in Dublin.

He knew all about the 26-year-old’s quality when they were team-mates but reckons that Ryan has only improved.

james-ryan-and-devin-toner James Ryan and Toner. Gary Carr / INPHO Gary Carr / INPHO / INPHO

“He’s brilliant, I think he’s got better and better,” says Toner.

“This year in particular, he’s taken more on with lineout calling and he was obviously captain last weekend and stuff. He’s doing phenomenally well, he’s always had it in him. I’m delighted for him.”

As Ryan gets set to lead from the front for Ireland at Murrayfield this weekend, yesterday brought confirmation that Scotland lock Grant Gilchrist will be missing due to his suspension for a high tackle.

Toner played against Gilchrist during his career and believes he will be missed by the Scots.

“Absolutely he will be, he’s a loss 100% with his lineout acumen.

“But I think whoever replaces him, maybe Johnny Gray or someone like that, having Richie and Johnny together will be good for them.

“I think Richie Gray is back to his best, but he [Gilchrist] will be a loss.”

Devin Toner was speaking at the launch of the Ireland v England legends charity match which will take place in Energia Park, Donnybrook on St. Patrick’s Day in aid of rugby charities both in Ireland and the UK.

Tickets are available to purchase on

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