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Ireland v Samoa: Toner paid his dues, says O'Driscoll

By Niall Crozier

With 104 international caps to his credit, no-one is better placed than Irish skipper Brian O’Driscoll to offer pre-match advice to Irish debutant Devin Toner.

BOD — like the 6ft 10in lock, a Leinster man — has witnessed the big guy’s development in the blue of their province.

He likes what he has seen, too, pointing to Toner’s all-round game rather than concentrating on the obvious.

“Everyone talks about Devin's line-out prowess but he has really come to the fore as a ball-carrier,” O’Driscoll said.

“You trust your front five to be the workhorses of the team and he's bought into that in a big way.”

He has no doubt that Toner is up to the task, capable of rising to the occasion and able to promote himself in the Irish pecking order.

“It's a fantastic opportunity for him to come in and stake a claim for a spot. It's fully deserved,” O’Driscoll said.

“People have to do their apprenticeships and Dev has done that by coming through the grade levels.”

Today and tomorrow O’Driscoll will offer the big rookie the benefit of his vast experience of international rugby.

Revealing what he is likely to advise, O’Driscoll said: “I'll tell him that he's been picked because of his provincial form, so back yourself with that. Don't play differently because you're pulling on an international jersey.

“It will probably be the proudest moment of his life, but once the whistle blows it's the same size pitch with the same number of players.”

Those are the similarities, but what differences can Toner expect to find?

“The intensity will be a bit higher and he'll know that from the kick-off. But you get into things very quickly.

“The first cap passes you by very quickly so you have to enjoy it as much as possible.

“Hopefully the team will give him a winning start.”

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