Saturday 16 December 2017

New Blues can't blow it: Madigan

Fly-half Ian warns Leinster's cubs to capitalise on caps

Leinster v Benetton Treviso The RDS, KO 7.05 (Live RTé 2)

The first 10 Leinster caps are the hardest, according to Leinster fly-half Ian Madigan.

To get that far, you have to first survive your first and second caps.

This may not come as sweet music to the ears of debut-maker Collie O'Shea against Benetton Treviso in the Rabo-direct PRO12 League at The RDS this evening.

Right wing Darren Hudson will play for the third time, while hooker Tom Sexton and wing Andrew Boyle could make their first appearance for the province at senior level.

It wasn't all that long ago that Madigan was right there in their boots, making his Leinster bow against Newport Dragons at unglamorous Rodney Parade in May 2009.

"I've always said -- when you get an opportunity with Leinster, if you don't take it, there won't be another one coming around the corner," warned Madigan.

Now that Madigan has proven his worth with 37 caps, he finds comfort from his experience and the fact that he is up to speed with all the nuances involved in Leinster's high speed game plan.

"There is a lot more pressure on you I find (in the beginning).

"That pressure is going to be on a few lads on Thursday who may be getting their first or second caps," he said.


"That pressure is now off me. Worst case scenario -- if I go out and have a bad game, Joe might stick by me again. Maybe not," he laughed, to a chorus of guffaws.

"I now know how certain people play. I know what type of passes people like, how to counter-attack with the back three, what to do at certain times of the game.

"My game management, as a whole, has come on. If you asked me two years ago what was my style of play, I probably wouldn't have been too sure.

"Now, it is pretty clear, I am a running 10. I play flat to the line and try to pick off people outside me," he said.

In other words, he found his identity over time. For O'Shea, this is his chance to make a mark, to shout out loud to Schmidt that he is here to stay. He could do a lot worse than to follow Madigan's example.

The one game at a time mantra is all he can go on in a centre partnership with his British & Irish Cup team-mate Brendan Macken.

For Leinster, it is a golden opportunity to stretch their lead at the top of the table out to 13 points, 14 with a bonus-point win, from The Ospreys and Munster, whose match against Aironi has been postponed.

Verdict: Leinster

Leinster: I Nacewa; D Hudson, B Macken, C O'Shea, F Carr; I Madigan, I Boss; H van der Merwe, R Strauss, N White, D Browne, D Toner, K McLaughlin (capt), S Jennings, L Auva'a.

Treviso: L Nitoglia; B de Jager, E Galon, A Pratichetti, B Williams; A di Bernardo, A Chillon; M Muccignat, E Ceccato, I Fernandez-Rouyet, F Minto, V Bernabo (capt), G Padro, B Vermaak, M Filipucci.

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