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Saturday 10 December 2016

Murray: Madigan can handle No 9

Ireland’s Ian Madigan (r) and Jonathan Sexton
Ireland’s Ian Madigan (r) and Jonathan Sexton

Joe Schmidt does have the option of calling on Robbie Henshaw to play against Romania when the team is revealed today.

"The good news to report is that every player is fit and is available for selection," reported Team Manager Mick Kearney in an injury bulletin yesterday afternoon.

It remains to be seen whether Schmidt will leave the Connacht man to one side and stick with Luke Fitzgerald or even plant Darren Cave in at twelve.

Either way, it will come as a boost to Irish resources given the bigger challenges that line the road ahead and add to the variety of options at Schmidt's disposal.

First-choice scrum-half Conor Murray is preparing to play, although Eoin Reddan is more likely for a spin on Sunday.

"Mentally you have to prepare to be involved in every game," he said.

"And all going well you should be involved in most games, if not all of them.

The mathematical fact that Schmidt brought just two nines means Murray will probably play every week that Ireland stay across the water.

"It doesn't change for me or Eoin during the week. We're both preparing for a Test match at the weekend.

"If there were three or four scrum-halves in here they would be doing the same thing."

The Munster man has backed possible emergency nine Ian Madigan to deliver, if called upon.

"During the World Cup camps over in Ireland and over here, he's been doing his bit of passing and box-kicking and just chatting around the hotel to me and Eoin about things," said Murray.

The essential starting point for Madigan is that he spends a lot of his time one slot away from scrum-half.

"He's got a good idea of how the game of rugby is played and what he expects his nine to do, so that's something that will come quite easily to Ian I think.

"He's been there a few times with Leinster when they've had sin-bins or injuries or things.

"He's not a complete stranger to it and I'm sure he's had a dabble in it as a youngster too.

"Ian is a very talented, skilful player," stated Murray.

"He can play full-back and centre comfortably, so nine is just another string he can add to his bow."

The likelihood is that Jonathan Sexton will be allowed the weekend off as, first, Madigan competes with Paddy Jackson for the number ten jersey.

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