Madigan accepts his best chance next season will be at number 12

Leinster player looking to impress against Barbarians to nail down World Cup place

Ian Madigan: “I probably hope that’s in the 12 position and, if Johnny is unfit or unavailable for whatever reason, then I’d be ready to step in to the outhalf position.” Photograph: Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ian Madigan: “I probably hope that’s in the 12 position and, if Johnny is unfit or unavailable for whatever reason, then I’d be ready to step in to the outhalf position.” Photograph: Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 
Ian Madigan

It’s the next time he’ll have a competitive outlet to present his credentials. Match platforms are like hens’ teeth in jostling for a place in Ireland’s World Cup squad.

Leinster’s failure to make the semi-finals of the Guinness Pro12 means that he’ll pull up a chair this weekend and watch how rivals, Paddy Jackson and Ian Keatley fare for Ulster and Munster respectively.

Chosen for his province’s final league outing in his preferred role of outhalf, Madigan excelled in a victory over Edinburgh. That’s the benchmark by which he’ll be measured in seven days’ time. Speaking at the launch of Ireland’s new Canterbury training gear, he admitted: “With the World Cup only around the corner it is about making the most of every opportunity you can get.

“Paddy (Jackson) and Ian (Keatley) will have their opportunities this weekend and hopefully my opportunity will come against the Barbarians. It is very important that you put your best foot forward with the break just around the corner because that is the image you are going to be leaving with the coaches going into pre-season.

Doing your best

Leinster

“That’s all I can control. I can’t do anything about Ian and Paddy this weekend. That’s up to them. I can just make the most of the week I have this week and keep improving as a player. I’ll watch them. I find myself watching a lot of rugby in my spare time.”

There’s a fourth piece to the outhalf jigsaw puzzle.

Jonathan Sexton is Ireland’s first choice and he returns to Leinster for next season following his two-year Paris sabbatical. Madigan was Sexton’s understudy before he left and it’s a role he’s likely to reprise.

“With Johnny coming back we have such a quality player, one of the best players in Europe if not the world, I would be naïve to think that they wouldn’t be starting him at outhalf, so for me it is about putting my best foot forward to be playing in the team alongside him.

“I probably hope that’s in the 12 position and, if Johnny is unfit or unavailable for whatever reason, then I’d be ready to step in to the outhalf position.”

Madigan has 12 months left on his contract to see how things pan out.

Likeable

In response to a question about the intercept pass he threw in the Champions Cup semi-final against Toulon, he smiled: “I’ve certainly looked at it and I wouldn’t do it again.”

“You have to review these things like you review your whole game, you can’t just shy away from it. I went for a pass that I thought was on but I didn’t quite execute what I saw. The ball didn’t come out of my hand clean; it slipped out a small bit. If it came out of my hand clean, it would have gone to Ben Te’o instead of drifting to Bryan Habana.

“It was a stage of the game I was just going on instincts as opposed to our process. So if I had my time again I probably would have passed it to Jordi Murphy and let him make the decision as opposed to putting a lower percentage play on my own back. You guys know my style of play, it’s going for plays and that’s in my make-up.

“It was the first ever intercept I’ve thrown in my professional rugby career. I don’t think there’s anything massively wrong there. I saw that the pass was on and I went with my instincts.

“I’m not going to change the style of my play off the back of it. But I’d be naïve to think that can’t happen again. If that happens in a World Cup game . . . the way you prevent it is to go with the higher percentage option.”

Billy Holland, Cian Kelleher and Ben Marshall were inadvertently omitted from the 27-man Emerging Ireland squad printed in yesterday’s Irish Times. All three players are included in Allen Clarke’s panel that will face Emerging Italy, Uruguay and Georgia during next month’s Tbilisi Cup

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