Sunday 17 December 2017

I have to look at my options

Madigan ready to make move to another province or England

Leinster's Ian Madigan during squad training
Leinster's Ian Madigan during squad training

Ian Madigan has come to that crossroads moment in his career when he is seriously considering leaving Leinster.

First things first, it will probably not be for the £500,000stg reported to be on offer from Bristol.

The English club is moored in the Championship, fighting for promotion into the Premiership.

The simple timeline means Madigan will want his next contract to be wrapped up by the New Year, at the latest, long before Bristol's fate will be decided.

"I certainly wouldn't be looking to play in the Championship," said Madigan.

"If you did decide to move to a club like Bristol, you're taking a massive risk in them not getting promoted.

"That would definitely factor into my decision."

The Irish international would be open to moving to The Premiership.


His agent Ryan Constable and Commercial Manager Dave McHugh are examining all viable options.

The fact is the IRFU have not come back to him with an offer of a new contract yet.

"I think the way it is now, you have to look at all your options as a professional sportsman," he said.

"I'm doing that at the moment, waiting for my agent to come back to me on what interest is out there.

"Then, we'll go from there. I'll weigh up the pros and cons of staying here, the pros and cons of going elsewhere, the ambitions of the other clubs."

The mindset of Madigan means he won't move for financial gain alone.

"The finance is always an aspect," he admitted.

However, he does recall a time in his life when he played pennies, all in the name of making his way in the game.

"If you're a guy in The Academy and you're earning 300-400 quid-a-month, it's a big move for you to go on to a development contract and earn 1,500-1,600 quid-a-month.

"That's the biggest, life-changing time you will go through, going from earning nothing to something."

He has been making well-above the average industrial wage for some time now and has diversified his business interest as one of the more marketable individuals in Irish rugby.

Above all else, Madigan is a competitor. There has to be a shot at silverware.

"Having been in such a fantastic club like Leinster, you're used to competing and winning competitions.

"That's the way I've always been," he stressed.

"I'd great success even as a kid playing with Kilmacud Crokes. I was lucky that I was on good schools team in Blackrock.

"I play sport to win competitions and to win medals. That's why I'm in this business."

Conor O'Shea's Harlequins have been mentioned as a possible suitor.

This appears to be be far more to his liking than the aforementioned Bristol.

"The appeal of a club like Harlequins is that they are a club that looks to win The Premiership every year," he stated.

"They're not just there to make up the numbers or to qualify for Europe or to look back on their season and go 'oh we made Top-4 this year that was a successful year.'

"They look back on their season and see what they won. That's what they base themselves on."

Their main out-half Nick Evans is 35 with the skilled Ben Botica second choice and the unexposed Tim Swiel third.

"It's very disappointing that they're not in The Champions Cup this year.

"But, I've no doubt they will bonus straight back with their finish in The Premiership at the end of the season.

"You've got an Irish coach there, who plays a very expansive style.

"You've got world-class forwards and backs. You'vegot the English captain. You've got Danny Care, a quality nine, the likes of Mike Brown, a tried and tested international.

"They've got real quality there."

Madigan has always shown loyalty to Leinster even when he was second choice behind Jimmy Gopperth during Matt O'Connor's reign.

He never broke ranks and screamed from the roof-tops about how he had paid his dues in behind Jonathan Sexton.

It was suppose to be his time. Then along came O'Connor and Gopperth.

Madigan is willing to contest for game time in another Irish province with Munster mooted as the most likely destination.

"I think you'd be naïve to rule it out," he added.

"The IRFU probably want to keep as many players in Ireland as possible.

"If you are within Ireland you are giving yourself the best possible chance to be picked for the national team.

"You've got Joe Schmidt guaranteed to stay on as Irish coach.

"We've had brilliant success in the last few years winning two Six Nations.

"It would be very hard to turn your back on that.


"The further you move away the further you're hampering your chances of being selected for your country."

The presence of Paddy Jackson at Ulster and the lingering perception of Connacht as a 'possible' Champions Cup qualifier point towards a more attractive head-to-head-to-head with Ian Keatley and Tyler Belyendaal at Munster.

The overriding impression is of a man on a mission to find the best possible place for him to play and win regularly.

For all of that, Leinster remains his club, the one for which grew up wanting to play.

The return of Sexton has left him in the same situation before he was in just over two seasons ago. But, these are changed times.

"It's very different to three years ago. Times do change," he acknowledged

"I'm only 26. I'm still looking to developing as a player and that's something that I'm always thinking, can I keep growing at Leinster?

"Certainly, there's brilliant coaches there. We're still attracting the best players in the world with the likes of Johnny coming back, Isa coming back.

"That' plays a huge part in it."

The balance of probabilities make Madigan unlikely to convince coach Leo Cullen he can move ahead of a fit and firing Sexton.

But, Ireland's out-half is not fully firing at present.

"It can be a short or a long process," he said.

"The process I went through with my last contract wasn't particularly long. Johnny had left. I was trying to get the starting No10 shirt. It was a no-brainer for me to stay.

"Times have changed now, Johnny's come back on a long-term deal.

"It's a process you go through, if you find the right fit and it all adds up it can be done quite quickly.

"If you don't, it can drag on. I'll be hoping that it won't be thrashed out through the media and will be done behind closed doors."

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