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Madigan makes sweet music in eye-catching return to his favourite position

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Ian Madigan impressed Joe Schmidt yesterday

Ian Madigan impressed Joe Schmidt yesterday

SPORTSFILE

Ian Madigan impressed Joe Schmidt yesterday

Ian Madigan is not one to blow his own trumpet in public.

But, there is something musical in the way he plays the game, conducting those around him to hit the right notes. The ongoing debate over his merits as a playmaker will continue as long as he plays in the shadows of Jimmy Gopperth and Jonathan Sexton for Leinster and Ireland, respectively.

"One of my big roles as an out-half, whether with Leinster or Ireland, is to facilitate other players and try to make other players look good. And I tried to do that as well as I can," he said.

The sweet striking was there for an 80pc return, eight-from-10, for 19 points. The sharp passing game and direct running were also on view as well as total commitment to the combat.

"It was a bit frantic at times for my liking and I would have liked to have got the back-line together off phase more and be more clinical there," he reviewed.

There was even an opening there for a settling grubber just when Ireland needed time in enemy territory.

"It was certainly important for us coming out against Georgia. We knew that they were going to be really enthusiastic and come off the line hard.

"It was definitely part of our game-plan to put the ball in behind them a bit. That part of the game-plan did work well for us."

The fact that coach Joe Schmidt retained Madigan at fly-half when Ian Keatley was introduced spoke positively to his measured performance.

"It's great to get 80 minutes in my favourite position," he said.

"I'm a rugby player. I'm employed to play the game and I'll play in whatever position I'm selected.

"Unfortunately, at Leinster at the start of the season, we had a few injuries and I've had to play a few games in midfield and full back.

"But, I really enjoyed playing at out-half today and I want to build on that performance."

He knows Sexton is nailed-on to start against Australia.

"Look, you don't just arrive in on the Monday at Carton House and write your name into the teamsheet," he said.

Early

"If you could I'd be in early and put my name in at No 10.

"I'm just looking to work closely with Matt (O'Connor) and Joe (Schmidt) to manage the areas of the game that are close to our line, getting the exits right.

"I feel if I keep doing that and keep working hard as a player that he selections will follow from that."

Australia follow next. Ireland have just replaced them as the third-best nation in the world on foot of the Wallabies loss to France in Paris. It is all set up so tantalisingly.

"You could see from the French game that they've great attacking flair. They've so many dangerous men across the back-line that you have to be right defensively against them," he said. "I thought France got off the line well in defense. We've got to try to do that this week."

It is likely Madigan will have to settle for a place on the bench as Leinster's ex-boss Michael Cheika - he was at the Aviva Stadium yesterday - plots Ireland's downfall.

"Yeah, I know from my brief time when he was head coach with Leinster, he really gets the most out of his players. He's a great motivator, a brilliant coach. You could see that the Australian players were really playing for him at the end of the game and they did their best."


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