Belfast Telegraph

Devin Toner will try to put heartache behind him

 

Devin Toner
Devin Toner
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

There is no better way for Devin Toner to get over the heartbreak of what happened in recent weeks than to get back on that other horse closer to home.

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All of the frustration, anger and disappointment will be reserved for Benetton in the PRO14 at Stadio Monigo this evening.

The selfless second row would be best advised to call the first lineout ball from inexperienced hooker Ronan Kelleher to his mighty mits.

Toner will join captain Ross Molony in the second row with Ireland internationals Ross Byrne and Dave Kearney also involved from the start.

Out-half Byrne, 24, will probably make way at some stage for his younger brother Harry, 20, to make his debut alongside loose-head prop Michael Milne.

This block of games leads towards the Champions Cup and it must be the goal of each and every one of these men to be there when Leinster start that campaign against Benetton at the RDS in mid-November.

The Italians won't be without their Leinster-bred influence as Ian Keatley will make his debut at No 10 with Ian McKinley for back-up.

Meanwhile, winger Duhan Van Der Merwe has expressed Edinburgh's desire to impress their fans when they host Zebre tonight.

Edinburgh kick off their PRO14 season with the Italian side's visit to BT Murrayfield and Van Der Merwe is hoping to start the campaign with a victory in front of the home crowd.

In a video on Edinburgh Rugby's YouTube channel, he said: "It's our first game and first home game. We obviously want to impress the fans."

The South African has been struggling with tonsillitis during pre-season but insists he is now fully fit.

He said: "It's been tough for me. The first four weeks felt good, I got back to full fitness and then I got the tonsillitis.

"That put me back. I knew that I'd have to get the operation. So I got the op about six weeks ago now and after that I've been struggling to get fit but I'd say I'm back to full fitness now."

Edinburgh will be without Henry Pyrgos, who was called up to Scotland's World Cup squad in Japan after scrum-half Ali Price was ruled out for the remainder of the tournament.

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill said: "We've got good coverage (at scrum-half) with Nic Groom."

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