Joe Schmidt described the difficulty of narrowing his Ireland 2019 World Cup squad down from 45 over the course of the summer before making his final cut to bring the number to 31 on Monday.
The Ireland head coach had called his previous experience of telling those players who would not be involved in 2015 that it was a “horrible couple of days” and “probably the worst couple of days I’ve had in coaching, this time four years ago”.
As he revealed the squad he will take to Japan in the hope of reaching the semi-finals for the first time in Ireland’s World Cup history at the ninth attempt, Schmidt spoke of the selection process and debate as the Irish management settled on their final 31 and telling the nine unlucky players to fall at the last hurdle - Will Addison, Ross Byrne, Rob Herring, Dave Kearney, Jack McGrath, Kieran Marmion, Jordi Murphy, Tommy O’Donnell, and Devin Toner.
“It was a difficult thing right from the start to have the 45 that we had,” Schmidt told IRFUtv.
“We went down to 40 players and to go from 40 down to 31 was really difficult, but we had a process whereby we looked back through every training, looked through the games.
“There were some guys who obviously had more experience and probably had more credit in the bank and were more established and there were other guys who were trying to force their way into the group and trying to get a balance of current form versus previous performance, it’s always a very, very difficult conundrum to try to solve.
“It was one of those typical selection meetings where maybe 20-25 of the players are listed straight away and it’s those ones where you are trying to get balance where it’s very difficult to choose between two players and two players offer slightly different things and you’re trying then to narrow down and trying to get the best balance across the squad of the entire 31 because that’s part of what you need to do because you’ve got to make sure you have cover that’s immediate - even though you can replace players there is obviously a big time delay in that.”