Wednesday 23 January 2019


D'Arcy moves to No 13 as Madigan stays put

Kane Douglas will make his debut for Leinster on the night Gordon D'Arcy will make what could be a long-term move to outside centre.

Flanker Dominic Ryan has already spoken about Douglas's international quality in the way he absorbed and used information in his first session with the club on Monday.

Tight-head Martin Moore will make his season's bow in what will be the most important year of in his career in what could be a first choice front row with Cian Healy and Sean Cronin.

In terms of Ireland, D'Arcy will move one out to thirteen, where he made such an impression as far back as 2004, ten years ago, in the Six Nations with Ian Madigan slotting in at twelve again.

Former Ireland hooker Shane Byrne sees Madigan as an "ultimate talent" capable of making a long-term move from ten to twelve, or even thirteen.


At the moment, the ankle injury to Noel Reid and the careful monitoring of D'Arcy's workload has prompted coach Matt O'Connor to place Madigan at twelve.

"The debate about Leinster is still going to be about Madigan. It seems to be working to a certain degree, the double pivot having the ten and twelve," said Byrne.

"Knowing Madigan, I would say he just wants to play. He has the talent to play in a lot of positions. I would say he would be happy if it went ten-to-twelve and getting a regular start.

"It depends on what way you look at it. Madigan is no shrinking violet. Number twelve is a very physical position. And he's up for it. He's well able to do it."

Byrne was eager to spread the debate one slot further out as the speculation continues over who will wear the number 13 jersey.

Brendan Macken has done well enough, so far. Luke Fitzgerald wants a shot there. D'Arcy has been strongly mooted to return to the position in which he earned the accolade of 2004 Player of the Six Nations.

The flash of genius, so inherent in Madigan, does bring to mind Brian O'Driscoll in the way he can turn a match with a change of direction or burst of acceleration. Byrne said: "Maybe, it (twelve) isn't his position.

"Maybe, one step outside again could be a position for him. Then again, he needs to be playing in that position, so that's probably not an option this year."

While Madigan has been denied the opening to knuckle down to a dual with Gopperth, he has also had to cope with the confirmed return of Jonathan Sexton, the man he shadowed for so long.

Leinster: R Kearney; F McFadden, G D'Arcy, I Madigan, D Fanning; J Gopperth, E Reddan; C Healy, S Cronin, M Moore, D Toner, K Douglas, R Ruddock, D Ryan, J Heaslip (capt).

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