Madigan a rising star - D'Arcy
D'Arcy hails prospects of young out-half
IRELAND centre Gordon D'Arcy has admitted Leinster are "spoiled" to have Jonathan Sexton and Ian Madigan as the two clear first and second-choice fly-halfs at the club.
While Sexton proved his mettle from the golden moment he struck that early penalty against Munster in the 2009 Heineken Cup semi-final at Croke Park, Madigan has had to win faith by making small, incremental improvements all the way through this season.
"One of the things that has been said since Ian has arrived is his ability to instil confidence into players," said D'Arcy, ahead of Friday night's PRO12 League encounter with Ulster at Ravenhill.
The long-term injury to former Canterbury Crusader Mat Berquist and the retirement of Ian McKinley has given Madigan, 23, the room to manoeuvre 14 starts in the PRO12 League and one in the Heineken Cup as well as another seven from the bench from both competitions.
"Being a 10, being the pivot, Ian has grown in that ability to be that decision-maker and learn by his mistakes," offered D'Arcy.
It wasn't that long ago that Schmidt was wary of the positive publicity that was sent in Madigan's general direction. He had, and still has, a lot to learn. The running and the passing are there.
The goal-kicking is simply not up to professional standards. The tactical kicking also requires great attention.
The feeling for when to run, pass or, particularly, kick is not well-defined. He is a southern hemisphere style of out-half located in a northern hemisphere climate.
"Joe has given him that (latitude). Make your decisions. Make the right ones. Make the wrongs ones. Learn from making mistakes," said D'Arcy.
"He has been on a steady upward curve. He has been an absolute pleasure to play with. He is a really, really strong asset to Leinster."
It comes as no surprise to hear D'Arcy sing the praises of an out-half whose first instincts are to run or pass, not to kick.
Consequently, Madigan puts the ball into the hands of his centres more frequently than most other players in his position. No wonder D'Arcy likes to line up outside him.
"To have a player of his ability behind someone of the standard of Jonny -- very few teams have that -- we're kind of spoiled," said D'Arcy.
"He has developed all aspects. The attacking side of his game was the area that needed the least development."
In reality, the Leinster mentality has always been to see what's on, to look to counter from deep in contrast to the more rudimentary approach of Munster and even Ulster.
This suits Madigan. But, he has also adapted to suit an evolving culture. "His game-management is phenomenal now. That showed right from eight-to-10 minutes (against Edinburgh) when we got a good break from our 22.
"He made the decisions to go for an up-and-under. Isa won the ball and, next thing, we were five metres from their line -- all through that decision.
"He is just making the calls and everybody is rowing in behind him. His game management has been impeccable."
When Sexton takes a look over his shoulder, he can see Madigan closing in.