Saturday 18 November 2017

Ice-cool Mads is the kicking king

Out-half worried about the cynical side of RWC

Ian Madigan and Jamie Heaslip at the the launch of the new 2015/16 season Leinster jersey
Ian Madigan and Jamie Heaslip at the the launch of the new 2015/16 season Leinster jersey
Michael Storan (CEO Fantasyrugger.com) and Ian Madigan at the launch of fantasyrugger.com

Imagine this scenario. Ireland are in the position of needing and winning a last minute penalty to make the semi-final or even the final of the World Cup.

Who would you want standing over the ball? Jonathan Sexton, Ian Madigan or Paddy Jackson?

It just might be the man in the middle. Madigan.

This may seem like a trivial future consideration. Not when you take a look back at the history of the World Cup.

The last one was decided by Stephen Donald's nerve-jangling shot at goal as early as the 46th minute and the refusal of referee Craig Joubert to penalise New Zealand for the multiple infringements that cost France a final they should have won.

In 2003, the left foot of Jonny Wilkinson swung it England's way with his first drop goal success at the third time of asking for 20-17 in extra-time.

Yes, it even took Wilkinson three chances to get it right. Ireland may only get one.

In 1995, Joel Stransky's drop goal was enough to see South Africa beat out New Zealand 15-12, also after extra-time.

There were no tries in the 2007 final in which Percy Montgomery (4) and Francis Steyn (1) kicked the penalties to edge England 15-6 in Paris.

The point is this competition often boils down to threes, not fives and sevens.

This is why the cold-blooded assassin of goal-kicking Madigan can be worth his place in the 23, never mind the 31.

The importance of shot-making shows no signs of abating for Madigan.

"I would be worried about how cynical it will be at the World Cup," he said.

"The way defences are going, it's becoming harder and harder to break teams down.

"You wonder will you see coaches formulating patterns of play to get teams to offend, to get penalties out of them. You can do that.

"Three points for a penalty or five for a try - there's not a massive difference. It is, without doubt, becoming an even bigger part of the game."

Last Wednesday, Sexton and Jackson, accompanied by Ireland Womens captain Niamh Briggs, took to the artificial grass at Donnybrook under the eye of kicking guru Dave Alred.

Madigan was nowhere to be seen.

"Richie Murphy is my sole kicking coach. The way he has coached me over the last six or seven years I feel comfortable with the process and technique.

"When I miss a kick, generally, he knows why. He knows how to correct it.

"I've done sessions with Dave, in the past, and thought they were really good. But, I'm very comfortable with how Richie does it. I don't feel the need to go to Dave.

"That works for me."

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