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Thursday 8 December 2016

Madigan made to cover most bases

Ian Madigan
Ian Madigan

Ian Madigan is moving closer to becoming all things to Ireland. When the various arguments were being thrashed out for the World Cup squad, Madigan was mainly wheeled as the choice for versatility because he could roam between ten, twelve and fifteen, if need be.

The Leinster playmaker has won the tussle with Paddy Jackson for the number ten shirt against Romania

However, it is the unknowable factor of whether he can cover as the third scrum-half that could provide the most interest tomorrow.

"It is one thing that we might do," admitted coach Joe Schmidt.

"We want him to get game time at ten as well and we want Paddy to get game time at ten.

"If the game is going in a direction where we think Ian would benefit from 15 minutes at nine, then that's possible."

Hopefully, Ireland will have enough on the board to reward Jackson and prop Tadhg Furlong with their World Cup debuts.

The argument over Ireland's back row looks cut and dried, now that Iain Henderson has been placed in the second row.

The pre-competition breakdown of Tommy O'Donnell and Rhys Ruddock made Chris Henry's life a good deal easier.

However, the impression of him as an out-and-out openside is given against a background in which he has played right across the row during his career.

The same can be said of Jordi Murphy, the man Henry wishes to challenge for a place on the bench against Italy on Sunday week.

He can only do this by ramping up his impact tomorrow in a back row with Murphy and Jamie Heaslip.

"I just hope that every time I take the field I can add something and that Joe's happy with me," said Henry.

"That's all I can do and any time I get a green shirt I love it.

"It would be great to put in a big performance and take it from there."

The Ulsterman is secure enough about what he brings to talk-up his direct competition.

"People say Sean O'Brien isn't a natural openside but Seanie can play everywhere," said Henry.

"I've seen Seanie, in that Scotland game in the Six Nations, absolutely bully the breakdown, he made four turnovers in that game.

"So when people say he's not a natural seven, I think it's just because he's capable of doing everything."

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