Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

RBS 6 Nations: Devin Toner wants that winning feeling to last

Fergus McFadden (left) celebrates with Devin Toner as the final whistle confirms Ireland's Six Nations championship win

Like many of their huge number of supporters, Ireland's players watched television coverage of England's Rome rout of Italy before heading to Stade de France for their own date with destiny.

When towering lock forward Devin Toner was asked if they had seen TV coverage of the first of the day's three matches he said: "We did. We got time to watch it in the hotel. They (England) played very well, but sure...it's good for us, I suppose!"

Events in Rome meant England had failed to overhaul Ireland's massive +81 points differential. As a result, an Irish win – whatever the margin – would suffice.

But that still entailed leaving Paris as victors, something of which only Brian O'Driscoll had experience – and that was 14 years earlier.

"Yeah, it was a grand final to us – winner takes all," Toner said.

"I've been lucky enough to play in a couple of finals so we kind of knew what to do, I suppose and try to keep the emotions in check."

Describing the situation in the post-match Irish dressing room he had just left he said: "Yeah, it's class really. It's really good. Just sitting down; you spend about an hour just sitting down, just talking, taking pictures and stuff, so that was a pretty good feeling.

"The satisfaction will linger. It'll go into the night now. We'll have a good night tonight and maybe tomorrow – we don't know yet!

"Guys have to get ready for the next one, I suppose, and it won't be very long before we (Leinster) are getting ready for Munster in the Aviva so it's obviously just quick, quick, quick."

As for having established himself as a tried, tested and now-trusted second row forward he smiled: "Yeah, just getting the starts and getting to play well is obviously good. I'm well happy at the moment to be honest."

Leinster colleague Mike Ross is another who, like Toner, has had to work for his rewards. Rejected by Munster, he went to England where he played for Harlequins before joining Leinster.

He spoke of his satisfaction at having given the Irish fans something to savour.

The 34-year-old tight-head described walking around the Stade de France and thinking, "God, the place is packed with us, there's Irish everywhere.

"I think the Fields of Athenry was outweighing Allez Les Bleus at one stage and you can see what it means to the country as a whole.

"We've been through some tough times and if we can give them a little boost in this way we'd be delighted with it."

Stressing what supporters go through, Ross said: "For a lot of people, what we do will make or break their days for them.

"There are a lot of guys for whom, if we win, it'll cheer them up. Those guys put their cash on the line, coming to the games and travelling to support us.

"If it wasn't for them we wouldn't have jobs, so it's important we give them good days out."

And reflecting, too, on those whose work made him the player he has become Ross said: "A lot of people help to get you where you are today and that goes for everyone. And you will think of them."

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