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Monday 21 August 2017

Ian Madigan: I've got to look at my position logically

Return of Sexton puts different focus on 10 spot

Leinster's Ian Madigan during a press conference. Leinster Rugby Headquarters, UCD, Belfield, Dublin. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Leinster's Ian Madigan during a press conference. Leinster Rugby Headquarters, UCD, Belfield, Dublin. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

The personal hell Paddy Wallace plummeted into back in 2009 lasted no more than 90 seconds, the time between the moment Wayne Barnes blew him for a penalty and Stephen Jones shot at goal fell into the grateful arms of Geordan Murphy.

"It was a state of shock, I suppose," recalled Wallace.

"Actually, I've been in a car crash. You get a numbness and shock after the incident. It was something close to that."

In a way, Ian Madigan had to go through something far worse in Murrayfield for it took what must have seemed like a lifetime from his last minute penalty miss to Rory Kockott's last play at Twickenham.

"That did cross my mind, I'm sure I felt as lucky as he (Wallace) did when the kick fell short. It made for a hellish two hours," he smiled.

When he was feeling down, Jonathan Sexton was there to pick him up off the psychological floor.

"Johnny came up to me in the sheds and he just said, 'It's not down to one kick', and he was pretty disappointed with the two he missed.

"He goes, 'Look, it's based over five games and everyone in the team could look at something that they could have done that could have added maybe three points or five points or prevented a try or a penalty, so you've got to look at the bigger picture'.

"He goes, 'Here look, if things don't go our way in this game this evening, we're in this together.'"

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Ian Madigan, Leinster, kicks a conversion. Guinness PRO12, Round 18, Leinster v Glasgow Warriors. RDS, Ballsbridge

All Madigan really knew is that he could have made Ireland three points better off. What he could not have foreseen was the drama to unfold in London.

"You're thinking, 'If England beat us by one point in the points difference, I hope they do us by four points. If they're going to do us so I'm not the complete fall guy'.

"When they didn't get over we were in the after-match function and myself and Johnny had a big embrace. It is the most relieved I've ever been."

The man who embraced Madigan is the very one who has forced a change in the once specialist out-half's career mindset.

"I've made it very clear that out-half is my preferred position but I think in sport the posts are always moving.

"With Johnny coming back I'm not going to be naive.

"He's one of the best players in the world. You're not going to have someone of his ability on the bench so I've got to look at where else I can fit into the team.

"This year I've been playing a lot at twelve and I've been really enjoying it."

The prospect of a Sexton-Madigan axis would leave the former to control and the latter to create.

"It is without doubt my most enjoyable season so far and with Johnny coming back next year I'd ideally like to play at 12 alongside him."

And not just for his province.

"I feel if we're playing well at Leinster as a 10-12 partnership then we could go on to greater things with Ireland an d with the World Cup coming up, to show that you can play in a few different positions will definitely assist me."

As for right now, Madigan has called on Leinster to be "switched on in defence" to cope with Bath's threats in The Champions Cup.

"George Ford runs is a player who is high in confidence after a very good Six Nations.

"He's very clever. He's a smart guy. You can see he's thinking his way through games.

"He's a player I've watched quite a lot. He's patient. He'll wait until the right opportunity to pull the trigger and unleash the quality backs that he has outside him."

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