Rugby World Cup 2015: Schmidt agonised over Trimble call

Andrew Trimble and Joe Schmidt
Joe Schmidt's decision to leave out Andrew Trimble is one of the big talking points of the Ireland selection
Rugby World Cup
Hosts: England Dates: 18 September-31 October
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Ireland coach Joe Schmidt says that he agonised over whether to include Andrew Trimble in his World Cup squad before opting to leave out the Ulster wing.

The 30-year-old winger's absence from Ireland's 31-man squad was the main talking point and Schmidt said it had been a "very difficult decision".

"We spent six hours on Sunday (picking the squad)," said the Ireland coach.

"For some of those six hours Andrew was coming to the World Cup. That's how tight it was."

The Ireland coach said that Trimble's lack of game time after his recovery from a long-term toe injury meant that "time ran out" for Ireland's 2014 player of the year.

Ireland's World Cup pool games
Saturday, 19 Sept, 14:30 BST: Ireland v Canada, Millennium Stadium
Sunday, 27 Sept, 16:45 BST: Ireland v Romania, Wembley Stadium
Sunday, 4 Oct, 16:45 BST: Ireland v Italy, Olympic Stadium
Sunday, 11 Oct, 16:45 BST: Ireland v France, Millennium Stadium

Trimble's appearance in the 35-21 victory over Wales on 8 August was his first for Ireland since June 2014 and that outing was cut short by another foot injury.

"The difficulty was that Andrew had played 34 minutes of a Test match. He played 80 minutes for Ulster," added Schmidt.

"In between that, he'd hurt the foot again and it just interrupted his opportunity to press for selection.

"Ability, commitment and what he's contributed when he has played for us all certainly counted for him. That's why it was one of the very, very difficult decisions that we made."

The Ireland coach said that Trimble, 30, was "very disappointed" by his omission but had vowed to keep working in case he may be needed as a replacement.

Rugby World Cup 2015: Time ran out for Trimble says Schmidt

"You get to establish strong relationships with these players because you work so hard with them and so closely with them that it's disappointing for us as well as for them but that's the brutal reality of what we have to do."

Schmidt confirmed that Leinster utility back Ian Madigan will act as scrum-half cover after the Ireland management opted to only take two specialist number nines in Conor Murray and Eoin Reddan.

"Ian has done a lot of individual training (for the scrum-half role).

"He hasn't trained (at scrum-half) with the team very much but in the last week he has started to slot it and do a little bit."

The Ireland coach added that centre Darren Cave's specialist midfield ability had helped earn his selection.

"We have a little bit of a manufactured midfield. Robbie (Henshaw) hadn't played 12 until he came into this environment and Jared (Payne) played more at full-back than 13.

Tadhg Furlong
Prop Tadhg Furlong made his Ireland debut against Wales in Dublin on Saturday

"We wanted one specialist midfielder in there who could played 12 or 13 and Darren can do that. And his flexibility and positivity in the environment are real plusses for us."

Schmidt added that young Leinster tight-head prop Tadhg Furlong had been picked because the management are confident that he will also be able to operate at loose-head.

"He's been doing some good work at loose-head in training and he's played there as well (for Leinster).

"Tadgh's really impressed us. Apart from taking six specialist props, there are not too many ways around that although Michael Bent is very unlucky."

Furlong, 22, only made his Ireland debut in Saturday's warm-up defeat by Wales in Dublin.

Ireland's 31-man World Cup squad

Forwards (17):

Hookers: Rory Best (Ulster), Sean Cronin (Leinster), Richardt Strauss (Leinster); Props: Tadhg Furlong (Leinster), Cian Healy (Leinster), Jack McGrath (Leinster), Mike Ross (Leinster), Nathan White (Connacht). Locks: Iain Henderson (Ulster), Paul O'Connell (capt), Donnacha Ryan (Munster), Devin Toner (Leinster). Back-rowers: Jamie Heaslip (Leinster), Chris Henry (Ulster), Jordi Murphy (Leinster), Sean O'Brien (Leinster), Peter O'Mahony (Munster).

Backs (14):

Back three: Tommy Bowe (Ulster), Keith Earls (Munster), Dave Kearney (Leinster), Rob Kearney (Leinster), Simon Zebo (Munster). Centres: Darren Cave (Ulster), Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster), Robbie Henshaw (Connacht), Jared Payne (Ulster); Fly-halves: Paddy Jackson (Ulster), Ian Madigan (Leinster), Jonathan Sexton (Leinster); Scrum-halves: Conor Murray (Munster), Eoin Reddan (Leinster).