Tuesday 25 October 2016

Ian: it's about getting on bus

Primary focus for Madigan is getting in World Cup squad

Ian Madigan will leave no ball unturned to make Joe Schmidt's Ireland squad for the World Cup.

Ian Keatley's omission has already set a cat amongst the gathering pigeons as a sign of how most are not safe from the axe just yet.

"I wouldn't view myself as competing with Johnny (Sexton), Paddy (Jackson) or Ian (Keatley)," he said.

"I've always had the view that I'm competing against myself.

"It's just about getting myself in the best physical shape and mental state I can be in and putting my hand up for selection and taking my opportunities if they come my way as best as I can.

"At the end of the pre-season and the warm-up games, I'll know that I'll have been true to myself and trained as hard as I can.

"If that means I'm the starting out-half or it means I'm going back to Leinster and not going to the World Cup, I can still look myself in the eye and know that I've given it absolutely everything."

The extended training squad of 45 will make its way to Carton House tomorrow for the beginning of what is guaranteed to be an intense four-week pre-season period, followed by as many warm-up matches.

Schmidt will wait for no man.

There will be many tight calls as the New Zealander strips away 14 more names before he finalises the World Cup contenders.

"My primary focus, step one, is getting in the squad of 31," batted Madigan.

"If you're not in that squad, there's no point in saying, I want to play out-half or I want to play centre.

"It's not worth anything to you. It's about showing Joe I can cover as many positions as possible.

"If you can do that at the top level, there's no doubt you are more valuable to the coach.

Madigan's four-week holiday away from the game has been laced with flash-forwards to the Autumn.

"The World Cup is always on your mind," he admitted.

"I've definitely found that this off-season. I've trained more than I would have in previous years. I don't know if that's because I want to give it absolutely everything."

It could be a case of now or never for Ireland's best goal-kicker.

"It's going to be competitive. It's going to be the pinnacle of our careers.

"I haven't played in a World Cup and this is definitely my best chance to get in. I'm 26. I will be 30 for the next one.

"The facts that we've got such a good team, such a good coach, guys know it's probably going to be a successful World Cup for us.

"It's about getting on that bus."

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