Schmidt instructs Leinster to start Madigan at 10 against Connacht

Jack McGrath reckons it is ultimately good for Leinster and Ireland that he is challenging Cian Healy for his loosehead position. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Jack McGrath reckons it is ultimately good for Leinster and Ireland that he is challenging Cian Healy for his loosehead position. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Fri, Oct 25, 2013, 01:00


Instructions from the Ireland coach Joe Schmidt will ensure Ian Madigan starts at outhalf for Leinster against Connacht in tomorrow evening’s Pro 12 match at the RDS.

Madigan lost the number 10 jersey to New Zealander Jimmy Gopperth after the 19-15 defeat to Munster on October 5th. The 30-year-old cemented the position with an impressive performance against Ospreys away and was retained for the victory over Castres last weekend.

“Yeah, I think we can expect Ian to start this week,” said Leinster assistant coach Richie Murphy. “He has obviously been sitting in the wings for the last couple of weeks. He needs game time in order to move him forward and he’ll probably get it this week.”

With Jonathan Sexton possibly starting all three November Tests, tomorrow’s game will provide Madigan with the opportunity to earn a place on the Ireland bench ahead of Paddy Jackson.

Despite being understudy to Madigan on the Northern American tour this summer, the 21-year old Jackson, as starting outhalf for Ulster, has moved into second in the pecking order.

Game time
“The only thing we’ve been asked for from the Irish management is the players going into national camp get an opportunity to play this weekend. Obviously they’ll get a weekend off next week so going into the Samoa match it’s important that guys have game time under their belt,” said Murphy.

This is also evident in Ulster’s line-up, with Declan Fitzpatrick starting at tighthead ahead of All Black John Afoa. This appears related to Mike Ross undergoing a fitness test this morning on a strained hamstring to see if he can pack down against Connacht.

“It all depends on whether he is ready to play or not,” said Murphy “If he can hit his markers . . . the process, and I can’t tell you exactly what this is, he has to hit every marker in order to play.

“If he’s fit to play, he’s ready to play. I’m sure the Irish management would like him to have another game under his belt but if he doesn’t hit those markers he won’t play.

Meanwhile, Jack McGrath spoke yesterday about the pressure he is putting on Cian Healy at Leinster and now Ireland. McGrath has been called up to next week’s national training squad ahead of Munster starter Dave Kilcoyne.

“I’m definitely ready to challenge him but I think it is great for Leinster and Ireland to have us both pushing each other. It’s a great challenge because he is the best loosehead in the world.”

Kilcoyne is on the Munster bench tonight against Glasgow as James Cronin starts.