Former Ireland international Devin Toner has confirmed he will step down at the end of the season.
The 35-year-old will finish with a glittering string of medals to his name as he holds Leinster’s record-breaking 276 appearances to date and knows he’s made a huge contribution in 16 years as a professional.
Toner made his provincial debut in 2006 and won his first cap in Ireland in 2009, but after Joe Schmidt took over as national coach he became a key member of the team and was part of Six Nations victories in 2014, 2015 and 2018.
Toner was controversially dropped by Schmidt for the 2019 World Cup but worked his way back to Ireland, winning the last of his 70 caps at Twickenham in February 2020.
The Meathman was part of the Leinster panel for Heineken Cup victories in 2009, 2011 and 2012 and was a finalist in 2018 while also winning seven United Rugby Championships.
“I suppose there’s never a right time and you’d love to keep playing, but I’m very fortunate to have had the career I’ve had and I can do the sport I love and the club I love love, leaving in good health and on my own terms,” he said.
“I’ve been at the club long enough to understand that not everyone is so lucky and I think now is the time to focus on the next chapter and of course more time with (wife) Mary, with (children) ) Max and with Grace. She, and Mary in particular, put her life on hold so that I could perform and I couldn’t have made it without her. So now it’s all about her and us all enjoying more time together.
“There are ups and downs in every career and I’m sure I’ll appreciate it even more with time, but I couldn’t have done it without the strength and support of my family and especially my mother, Anne, mine Father’s Peter, and my siblings Emma and Darragh. They literally traveled all over the world to see me play and I’m so grateful.
“It was brilliant and I loved every minute of it but I’m happy with my decision and excited to see what the future holds. I am very much looking forward to starting the next chapter of my life.
“Finally, I would like to once again pay tribute to my wife Mary and all that she has done. She has been with me throughout my professional career and has sacrificed a lot. I couldn’t have achieved half of what I have without her by my side.”
Leinster coach Leo Cullen paid tribute to Toner, who will still play a role in his side’s walk-in.
“Big Dev has had a huge impact on Leinster and Irish rugby. I remember Devin well the first time I saw him as an Irish schoolboy against Wales at Donnybrook. What an outstanding career he’s had since then,” he said.
“I was fortunate to have the opportunity to play and coach Devin and he was always a pleasure to work with. He was such a well-liked and respected member of the Leinster dressing room and his easy-going nature has allowed him to forge many strong in-game relationships.
“To have played almost 350 games for his club and country and to have been part of so many successes is a testament to Devin’s dedication and consistency in his preparation. And more recently Devin has been a great mentor to some of Leinster’s younger players.
“Devin had great family support and some fantastic coaching influences in his early days at North Kildare, Castleknock and Lansdowne and I’m sure everyone is incredibly proud of all his achievements.
“We will miss Devin, but we wish him, Mary and the children all the best for the future.”⁷
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/leinster-rugby/leinsters-devin-toner-confirms-he-will-retire-at-the-end-of-the-season-41469860.html Leinster’s Devin Toner confirms he will retire at the end of the season