How Do You Solve A Problem Like Ian?

Saturday night saw another welcome development in the story of the precocious Ian Madigan.  Another Man of the Match display in a Pro12 game, and the try he set up for Fionn Carr showcased his luminous talent.  He has a fantastic, highly unusual (for Irish rugby) skillset: exceptional passing, breaking skills, eye for the tryline and now, solid place kicking [Aside: should Ferg be worried about this development?].  His weaknesses – game management and kicking from hand – are improving. Yes, we know he hasn’t successfully piloted a game through muck and rain in the style of the man he could potentially replace on the Ireland 22, Radge.  Last year he carved up the Pro12 and started his first Heineken Cup game, at home to Montpellier.  An international breakthrough seems inevitible this November.

But it’s becoming increasingly difficult to justify sitting him on the bench for the big games, no matter how well Jonny Sexton is playing.  It’s getting to the stage where Madigan needs to take the next step in his career – starting Heineken Cup games regularly.  WoC has been sniffy about complaints that Madigan ‘isn’t getting enough game time’ in the past, but this season, such is his quality, they will start to become relevant.  Some hard decisions will have to be made.

What is Joe to do? He has a settled and successful team on the pitch, the best 10 in Europe, but has a seriously talented younger chap kicking his heels on the bench. He needs to balance the present, the future, and the maximisation of his existing resources. Can he get Madigan into the team, and how?  Let’s look at the options:

  • Status Quo. In this scenario, Sexton starts the big games and Madigan the Pro12 ones when Deccie says Sexton has a headache. At the very least Madigan will need to be given significant minutes off the bench in Heineken Cup matches.
  • Sexton to 12. This was Deccie’s favoured ploy when he didn’t have the balls to drop Rog decided to play O’Gara and Sexton on the same pitch. To be fair, Sexton never looked uncomfortable, but yet, it never struck us as a viable long-term solution, and genuinely appeared as a sop to the bolshy Rog. Still, it fills what is aleady a problem position for Ireland, and is likely to become one for Leinster. Will Sexton, the best 10 in the Heineken Cup for the last two seasons and favourite to wear the Lions 10 jersey, be impressed with being taken out of the slot to accomodate the uncapped Madigan? In a word – no.
  • Madigan to 9. This has been floated before, most eloquently by the Mole, but Madigan, unlike Giteau, has never played 9. It’s worth a shot if you feel it’s a genuine long-term option, but Leinster and Ireland are well-served in this specialist position, and it would look like a sticking plaster solution to accommodate both men in one team.  And great as Madigan’s distribution is, passing from 10 is not the same as passing (and manging the tempo) from 9.
  • Madigan to 12.  With Ireland crying out for a silky distributor at 12, could Madigan, effectively, be the new Paddy Wallace?  He’d have even more space at 12 than at 10.  Ball-in-hand it looks a good fit, but the 12 channel is popoulated by monsters these days and while Madigan is a brave and competent defender, he probably lacks the sheer bulk to play there.
  • Madigan to 15. Really? With Bob and Isa Nacewa in the squad? And Andrew Conway as the resident promising youngster? Not a runner.
  • Stand Up And Fight. In this scenario, the incumbent (Sexton) gets unceremoniously benched for big games, and Madigan is thrown in to the first team. If Sexton becomes a bench-warmer at Leinster, he won’t be best pleased, and an iHumph-style flounce can’t be ruled out – could Sexy take over Rog’s red and green shirt?

No obvious solution then.  No doubt Ian Madigan is aware that he is working with the best coach of backs in Europe, and it’s almost certain that without Joe Schmidt coaching him, Madigan would not be as far in his development as he is.  It would be a wrench for him to leave all that behind, but this could be a summer for hard decisions.

Were he to look around, he would not lack for suitors.  Both Munster and Ulster would be in the picture.  Ulster are crying out for proven quality in the position and nobody knows how Paddy Jackson will go this season, while Niall O’Connor is squad player material.  At Munster, the world and its mother knows that a legend is nearing the end of his career, and while Keatley has started this season well, doubts remain as to his ability at the very top level.  Last year, you might have argued that Madigan’s skills could wither on the vine at those provinces, but the augurs are good under new coaching regimes.  Mads would most likely have offers from abroad too, probably including franchises from the Super XV, to which his game would be tailor-made.

Leinster would surely hate to see such a special talent slip through their fingers.  Somehow a way has to be found of getting him the necessary exposure to keep him happy and progressing at a suitable pace.  Talent this special is rare indeed.

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56 Comments

  1. Martin Riggs

     /  September 10, 2012

    Savage stuff lads.
    But no more talk of Sexton wearing red. Ever.

    • Giuseppe

       /  September 10, 2012

      Sure isn’t his auld lad a Kerry man?

      Seriously though Madigan to Munster? If Keatley doens’t make the step up this year ($hit or get off the pot time for him) Munster will need a quality 10 as ROG can’t keep going forever (despite what he might think himself).

      • Amiga500

         /  September 10, 2012

        Prob exact same boat at Ulster Giuseppe.

        Paddy Jackson may be a bit younger than Keatley, so might have more potential to improve beyond, but given where the rest of the Ulster squad are right now, the out-half is significantly behind the curve. Can Ulster afford to wait on PJ.

  2. Radge Fan

     /  September 10, 2012

    Madigan recently signed a new contract – to do that he must have extracted some promises from Schmidt about gametime (and more than likely moving up the kickers pecking order). I can’t see either going to Munster or Ulster (both have very promising young 10s in Hanrahan & Jackson – for the record, Hanrahan is 6 months younger than Jackson, so could emerge at a senior level just as quickly in the next 6 months).

    Sexton must be concerned (with contract up for negotiation at the end of the season). It could be a ‘move to 12’ as both Leinster & Ireland need a 12 or we’ll be delighted to see you back home for the 6Ns from France/England. Shane Horgan was advocating Sexton move to 12 in the 6Ns, so it obviously isn’t a foreign concept in Leinster.

    WofC – what do you think of the rumours (in Indo today) that the IRFU blocked Madigan travelling to NZ because of the cost? I wonder is that why Paddy Wallace didn’t travel either?

    • Could we be about to enter the age of having four test class Irish 10s? It would be remarkable, but it’s still miles off. Madigan is a long way ahead of Jackson and Hanrahan in his development, he’d definitely pique the interest of the coaches at Ulster or Munster. To put some numbers on it, he has 51 Leinster caps (26 starts); Jackson has 18 for Ulster (10 starts) and Hanrahan has yet to play even a minute of Pro12 for Munster. Jackson has a chance to get some good experience at Ulster this season, but it’s still nowhere near being a home run that he’s good enough. He was like a rabbit in the headlights in the HEC final. Hanrahan is still totally unproven at senior level, he’s nothing more than a promising nipper.

      The notion that the IRFU – which makes a concerted effort to keep its players in the country – would tell the first-choice national out-half to play 12 or get lost, seems fanciful in the extreme.

      It’s off topic, but the rumour that there was ‘no excess baggage’ on the NZ tour was mooted at the time by Peter O’Reilly, and we’ve heard it since too. It shows a depressingly narrow vision from the IRFU. It did look as if a few corners were cut to minimise costs (flight home morning after game, Paddy Wallace plucked from Portuguese sun-lounger) and that can’t be ideal for facing the world champs.

  3. Len

     /  September 10, 2012

    Great question and as a long term Leinster supporter one of my major issues in the last season. The patriot in me says Mads must leave the blue and gold fold for greener pastures and first choice rugby in the national interest, as until JJ comes of age as a ten Mads will be the second choice (potentially first choice) ten for Ireland. The blue core of my rugby being however screams “No” at the suggestion of loosing such a talented player to any other Provence or a foreign team. This is where the what if’s start, what if JS gets injured, what if JS hits a bad run of form?

    This is a minefield for the coach to deal with. Balancing the personalities, player management limits from the IRFU and maintaing sufficiently strong cover for your first choice 10 without marginalising the player in that position.

    I don’t see JS signing for Munster but then again I don’t see Mads signing for Munster either. Guess we just have to wait and see.

  4. zdm

     /  September 10, 2012

    Leinster would have to be out of their minds to move Sexton to 12 – seriously, the best 10 by a country mile this side of the equator – move him in to a bosh-fest just because Leinster happen to have two decent 10’s and no decent 12?

    Sexton’s game management is ridiculously good and is probably what makes this Leinster team one of the best ever rather than one of the best at the minute, his use of strike runners is leathal and much of this decision making is lost on a 12 where the decision is basically carry or ship it on – Leinster need a 12 on the pitch, not a 10 in a 12 costume.

    Would Madigan’s style suit Munster’s strengths? His passing and distribution are his key strengths but Munster’s strengths are their inside men, despite possessing two of the best wingers in the pro-12, they are not an expansive team and Madigan would probably be wasted on them and vice versa.
    As for Ulster, they had an opportunity to use one of their NIQ slots for a 10 but chose to put all their “talented youngster” eggs in the PJ basket so I don’t think they would be that keen to loan out Madigan until Leinster decide whether they like him or not.

    • Yep, Sexton has probably been the most valuable player in the Heineken Cup over the last two years. He’s been excepetional. Moving him to 12 , where he’s never really played outside of a few cameos, would be very surprising. Especially in a Lions year where he’ll have made the 10 shirt a specific target.

      I wouldn’t say Leinster have ‘no decent 12’. D’arcy showed last season that he’s still a vital part of the Leinster team. His yards in contact are launchpads for frequent attacks.

    • henryfitz

       /  September 10, 2012

      In phase play, 10 and 12 are nominal positions. In defence, it’s pretty obvious that you’d have Sexton at 12 and Madigan at 10. There’s nothing in the lawbook that says that’s how they’d have to line out in attack though. First and second five-eighth in NZ rugby alternate as playmakers, and Leinster could easily set up with Sexton left and Madigan right, or whatever variation they want in attack. It takes time for players familiar with the onus of the 10 position to share that responsibility, but it can be done.

      • zdm

         /  September 10, 2012

        It shouldn’t be done. The days of the second 5/8 are dying – Paddy Wallace is the architypal ball playing inside centre and only for a remarkable recovery rate and an apparent lack of concern for his own welfare, he would’ve been on the butchers block a long time ago.
        Consider playing Sexton at inside centre against the current Muster or South Africa sides – they’d send a torrent of beefcakes down his channel until the levee breaks. It’s exactly what Sunny Bull did to Ireland during the tour.
        Inside centre is now the home of the gym monkey. When did the All Blacks last opt for a second 5/8 at 12 – Nonu is back in the harness while Sunny Bill was basically a flanker in a 12 jersey.

      • henryfitz

         /  September 10, 2012

        Sexton is a great defender as well as a big, solid fella. He’s the best defensive back in Ireland, in my opinion. If he can’t cope with 12, I don’t see why we’d expect D’Arcy, the smaller man, to be able to. It’s as easy to send monsters down the 10 channel as it is the 12, and Sexton has dealt with all of that fairly easily so far. He has been instrumental in a lot of turnovers while defending there for Ireland. For Leinster, I can barely remember anyone making a bust down his channel.

        The way you’re reasoning would leave Ireland with James Downey or a training-wheels Chris Farrell at 12, which is not what I’d be hoping for, anyway.

      • zdm

         /  September 10, 2012

        It’s not just as easy to expliot the 10 channel because that channel is usually populated by a 10 and a flanker – David Wallace was assigned to be O’Gara’s personal body guard during the grand slam season and was fairly effective at protecting him and his woeful tackling from any sustained prodding. If you expect your 10 to take a battering, you assign a flanker to help him out. If your 12 is going to take a pounding, they are expected to fly solo a lot more often – getting a flanker there on time for 80 minutes would require a mammoth effort even from a pro rugby player.
        In any case, my main argument against playing Sexton at 12 is that it is a waste of talent. NZ are embarrased by the amount of talent they have in the backrow and a few of those boys could probably do a shift at lock but I don’t believe they should just to squeeze 4 back rows in to 3 slots – rugby is a position specific sport and playing your best 10 at inside centre because he could probably cope with it just to get your second best 10 on the park is not the way forward.

      • henryfitz

         /  September 10, 2012

        For most sides, the 10 has to make roughly 75% of the tackles that the 12 has to make. Against the likes of Wales, that proportion tends to change slightly, for obvious, Jamie-Roberts-shaped reasons (the opposing 1st centre has to make more tackles, as does Rhys Priestland on the Welsh side). Sexton and Darce’s tackle stats for the last 6 Nations in made/missed format are Sexton 31/2 and Darce 37/6. There isn’t a great deal of difference then. Two more tackles per match at 12. Shouldn’t be beyond Sexton, who seems to enjoy the contact.

        If it’s a waste of talent playing Sexton at 12, it’s also a waste of talent if Madigan isn’t used. There’s an opportunity cost, either way. If McFadden and Downey were better players or Marshall and Hanrahan were older, then this wouldn’t be an issue. The best players would play in their best positions. As it is, 12 is a position of relative weakness, and Sexton has the attributes, if not the inclination to play there. There’s not much supporting evidence for success or failure, but it’s a possibility. I think Schmidt will try it out at some stage, and then we’ll know whether it’s a good idea or a bad one. I certainly don’t think there are grounds to call it a bad one a priori.

        • A good back and forth, HF & zdm. I think we’ll see this at some stage. I’d say the first time we see it will be springing Mads from the bench for Dorce after 55-60 minutes. Sexton would presumably fill the 12 channel on defence, but in attack it could be a mix and match affair. I think something fairly fluid is the best way of this working. The other variable determining how much we see of it might just be Dorce- everyone is in a hurry to write him off but he keeps coming up with the goods just as you’ve put a line through his name. Can he hang on to the Leinster and Ireland 12 shirt for another year?

  5. Dr Gonzo

     /  September 10, 2012

    The problem about Madigan runs both ways. Ulster probably wouldn’t want to undermine Jackson by bringing in Madigan. As for Munster, not trying to sound like one of the Desperate Housewives with gossip but it is well publicized that many young Leinster players have minimal time for Munster and are quite disparaging. I have heard from friends in the Leinster Academy/Development set-up that Madigan like many of them have said that a move to Munster wouldn’t be fashionable at all though not in such polite terms. Leinster is a very good set-up to be involved with. Not just because of coaching or facilities, but because it is your home province and a guy who had a schools legend reputation can still stay close to friends, family, and the cosmopolitan night life. Sexton was linked with moves away but his fiancee got a job, he had bought an apartment and it was easier to stay and play from where he’s from. Madigan in my opinion from the evidence of the guy wouldn’t want to trade that for wet November mornings in CIT doing kicking practice with Cathal Sheridan and Scott Deasy. I think he’ll stay in Leinster but your article raises some brilliant points about how much this will test Schmidt and Kidney as coaches.

    • Xyz

       /  September 10, 2012

      Gonzo, interesting gossip from the junior Leinster ranks but that is the kind of attitude that Mad’s agent should slap out of him pretty sharpish. He is a professional rugby player and Munster are a top tier NH side that could offer him a platform for national selection and an undoubtedly competitve comp package. He’s the kind of talent that you could see a new coach wanting to build a team around too.

    • Agree with Xyz here. Munster were poorly coached under McGahan and have some structural issues that need to be fixed, but to paint them as a rugby backwater is crazy. Their pedigree demands respect.

      • Dr Gonzo

         /  September 10, 2012

        I agree with you both XYZ & WOC. I am being honest when I say that many of my friends who play for Leinster underage and are in the Academy are privvy to these things and have no reason to lie about them. Many of them support these sentiments. Might be a hangover from the schools days(hey I was only a superstar for the Newpark seconds, Blackrock’s best rugby school!).
        WOC as for you saying to not judge the lad of unsubstantiated rumours, these are facts and this blog (excellent as it is) has used rumours or unconfirmed reports from sources in Irish newspapers in blogs about the IRFU Commitee cost-cutting on the NZ tour, or Demented Mole talking about O’Gara’s influence in the Munster set-up. I believe what they say about Madigan, he’s not the first to dismiss playing for Munster. Rhys Ruddock could have signed for them and be guaranteed game time but didn’t, Luke Fitzgerald was offered a full contract with Munster straight from school and rejected it. Madigan isn’t alone in not desiring to play for Munster.

  6. Cillian Hogan

     /  September 10, 2012

    Madigan is the closest thing to a James O’Connor we’ve got. Drico like Rog will be hanging up the boots soon. Stick him at 13. He’s quick and has great feet.

    • zdm

       /  September 10, 2012

      Is he a better 13 than Keith Earls or Darren Cave? No. Is he a better 10 than Ian Keatley and Paddy Jackson? Yes.
      Why make the 3rd (? 2nd) best 10 in Ireland in to the 4th or 5th best 13?

      Ireland don’t have a general derth of inside or outside centres – Ulster alone have 4 or 5 young centres with experience at either the sharp end of the Pro 12 or in the HC and have 2 with at least Wolfhound caps. What they do have a problem with is that they don’t have an international-ready 12 or an outside centre who could come in for BOD without it looking like a huge drop off in talent.

      While Keit is doing his best O’Gara impersenation by trying to wedge himself in to the green 13, I’d imagine Keit and Cave will get a chance to duel it out in the Autumn series. Cave was written off at the start of last season but as anyone who regularly watches Ulster play can tell you, he has come on immensely in the last 18 or so months and is one of Ulster’s most potent attacking threats (in a team with Payne, Bowe, Trimble and Gilroy)

    • I wouldn’t endorse this. He’s enough on his plate learning to play 10. 13 is the hardest position on the pitch defensively and he’s no experience of it. It’s asking too much of him.

  7. Radge Fan

     /  September 10, 2012

    Dr Gonzo – shame on Leinster for allowing that kind of talk which encourages (bully really) what are basically clueless kids, into moving away from their own country (rather than move to Munster). As far as I know, Ian Madigan has very close Cork connections for one so its disappointing to hear that he is that immature to go along with it.

  8. On the subject of position-changing, it is interesting to note that in Australia (and to an extent NZ), 10 and 12 are seen as interchangable. Berrick Barnes has started in both this RC, and Cooper, JOC, and Giteau have all started in both in Super Rugby and for the Wallabies (Beale has also played in both for the Wallabies, but not as a starter).

    For NZ, Carter could play both, Cruden probably couldn’t, but would be expected by the management to fill in at 12 if necessary. Note, this would not apply to an outside centre shifted in, like Nonu.

    In SA, 10 and 15 are seen as more interchangable, with 12 as specialist – Morne and Pat Lambie have started in both of late, as has Ruan Pienaar (as well as 9) and Francois Steyn (as well as 12).

    In Ireland (and in the British Isles in general), we are much more position-specific, although we in Ireland used to see 10 and 15 as very similar to an extent – Geordan Murphy has started in both for Ireland, although he was a singular talent. Of other British/Irish backs, we can only think of James Hook as corresponding to the “Aussie model”, although Cipriani could probably do it too.

  9. It appears everyone is agreed that Sexton is the best 10 in Leinster and D’Arcy the best 12, but the unknown is whether Madigan-Sexton is a better 10-12 than Sexton-D’Arcy.

    On the premise that they would try it in NZ, you would imagine Schmidt will roll it out at some stage – and it’s very different off the bench into a known situation than from the start. It’s hard to imagine it will be chanced in a live HEC game, and, due to the draw, you can’t see many dead HEC rubbers ahead – is it a runner vs Munster?

  10. Dave

     /  September 11, 2012

    You made my point for me WOC regarding SH interchangeable positions. I think Adam Ashley Cooper started at Prop for the Wallabies at some stage surely! Mole wrote an article about this sort of thing regarding Deccies decision to pick Peter O’Mahony at 7 ahead of Chris Henry, where O’Mahony’s best games for Munster were on the blindsde and vice versa for Henry. Queue ructions from some quarters. However the All Blacks didn’t think twice about moving McCaw to 8 to bring in Sam Cane. Nor the Wallabies moving AAC from full back, to right wing, to outside centre etc. The Chris Henry example isn’t the best as O’Mahony hasn’t really made a position his own yet though he is one of the first names on the Munster team sheet, it could be 6, 7 or 8 on his back.
    I think Joe wouldn’t hesitate playing either Sexton or Madigan at 12 at any stage. He played Jordi Coghlan there in a pre season game so he obviously sees it as the teams biggest weakness. I reckon if he had access to his Internationals earlier we would have seen a Sexton/Madigan 10/12 combo already with the role reversals for attack and defense HenryFitz mentioned.

  11. Pete

     /  September 11, 2012

    Thing about Madigan to Ulster is right now it looks a really good idea. Jackson is ridiculously young for the pressure heaped on his shoulders – most 10s his age are either warming a bench, playing a lower level, or taking on the far lesser responsibility of 12 or 15, while the less said about O’Connor the better.

    However, who knows where we’ll stand at the end of the season? Jackson’s got a shot, if he’s fulfilling his talent, I – and I imagine the Ulster management – would be very loath to disrupt that by bringing in another man and dropping him in front of him. Until we know what’s happening, we shouldn’t really be looking at bringing in another fly-half next summer.

  12. Len

     /  September 11, 2012

    Guys first off I don’t think that Leinster can be blamed for the attitude of their players towards Munster. I don’t condone this attitude and certainly wouldn’t like to see any Leinster players leave Ireland to go to a foreign team ahead of another Irish province. The attitude is understandable from a social point of view. Most of these guys are diehard Leinster fans and as such have had their views of Munster coloured over the years by friends, relatives, clubmates and the last decade of rivalry. Think of this in GAA terms it would be like suggesting that a Dublin player switch to Cork. Complete non runner. I agree that this is a negative for the unity of the rugby playing country but I don’t see any short term solutions. Plus you can’t expect competitive teams who know their loosing a talented player to start endorsing one of their biggest rivals, that simply won’t happen. The fact that player contracts don’t include non competition clauses is in itself a mark of the maturity of the sport.

    I don’t think this is just a issue in Leinster either. I find it hard to believe that Munster players would be any quicker to jump ship to Leinster given the opportunity. One notable exception to all this that I can think of is Niall Ronan who moved from Leinster to Munster.

    There is also another side to this argument. one of the things which has transferred over from the GAA (and I’m very grateful it did) is pride in the jersey. This is a slightly over used statement by the rugby media but here it actually fits. These guys are playing for their province and are committed to their province in a similar fashion to inter county players commitment to their county. This has built up a passion and commitment within the teams which has on occasion been the basis of fantastic displays and the passion has even spread to foreign players (Nacewa & Howlett to mention two). If players start to think in purely professional terms then we loose that passion and commitment.

    • Dave

       /  September 11, 2012

      Just to note, MIke Ross, Sean Cronin, Eoin Reddan, Stephen Keogh, Trevor Hogan, Brian O’ Meara, Denis Hurley, Ian Keatley, Felix Jones, Ian Dowling and James Downey are all either from or have played for Leinster and Munster. They may not have moved directly between provinces however.

  13. radge fan

     /  September 11, 2012

    Gonzo, I wouldn’t confuse agent talk about Rhys Ruddock turning down a Munster offer. More like agent talk because as far as I remember, Munster Rugby issued a very polite statement removing the speculation about a move to Munster about a month or two before either Ruddock (or Bowe) actually signed for Leinster or Ulster and signing CJ Stander looks to be a far better piece of business.

    Dublin GAA are lucky that players like former Tipp intercounty player Ryan O’Dwyer is happy to win trophies with both counties.

    • Redhanded

       /  September 11, 2012

      There was certainly no statement from Munster about Bowe not going there. The message boards were rife with speculation until confirmation came from Ulster (although I think Bowe’s mother said on a TV chat show that he’d be going to Ulster before official word came out)

      • radge fan

         /  September 11, 2012

        The Munster statement about Bowe & Ruddock was posted on the Munster website on 10 Feb. Bowe didn’t sign for Ulster until 6 March and Ruddock didn’t sign with Leinster until 24th March.

    • Munster’s website makes the contract offers to Bowe and Ruddock [and their rejection of same] clear:
      http://www.munsterrugby.ie/news/10095.php – 10 February 2012
      “The successful conclusion of the Laulala deal followed closely that of James Downey but their ambition to add Tommy Bowe and Rhys Ruddock would seem to have been thwarted with the news that Bowe has indicated that should he accept an IRFU contract, the pull of home is the deciding factor in him choosing Ulster rather than Munster. Ruddock is also understood to have decided to remain with Leinster rather than accept the Munster offer.”

      • radge fan

         /  September 11, 2012

        It should be noted also that Doug Howlett contract extension was announced 2 weeks later (24 Feb), a month before Ulster signed Bowe.

        Far more likely Munster were ‘failing’ to recruit IQ players and having to resort to signing NIQ players (Howlett & CJ Stander) LOL.

        • I’m not sure what you are trying to observe with the timeline here – do you think contract negotiations take place sequentially? Its fairly unlikely that Munster decided (off their own bat, with no formal or informal talks with Ruddock or Bowe) on Feb 10th not to make offers, then start alternative negotiations – it would be a pretty dumb way to do business.

      • Redhanded

         /  September 11, 2012

        Fair enough. My recollection of the timeline was mistaken.

      • radge fan

         /  September 11, 2012

        WoC – Munster didn’t put much effort into pursuing either Ruddock or Bowe and it may have been for the benefit of the Player Advisory Group who approve NIQ signings that Munster made an effort to sign two Irish qualified players in the first place. It would also have been of benefit to Ruddock & Bowe if it was thought that Munster were also pursuing them, but Munster removed themselves publicly long before either Bowe or Ruddock had negotiated deals with Ulster or Leinster.

        While at the time, some might have thought that Howlett was finished, Munster would have known that he wasn’t, so why would they want to sign Tommy Bowe in the first place (I don’t recall hearing of any possibility of Howlett signing anywhere else either).

        Sean Dougall said recently that Munster were monitoring him regularly while at Rotherham – he also only got a 1 year deal. A similar 1 year deal might not have been attractive to young Rhys.

  14. Larno

     /  September 11, 2012

    How about Madigan for Jackson, straight swap.

    Madigan straight into first choice at Ulster, starts every game, learns game management from Pienaar. Now plenty of talented backs at Ulster happy to work off Madigan’s excellent distribution skills.

    Jackson learns the trade from Sexton and blossoms under the auspices of the best backs coach in Ireland, while Sexton continues as first choice for Leinster and Ireland, as he should be.

    Both provinces win and so does Irish rugby in the long run.

    If only life was that simple?

  15. @Len Great points. I think we have to remember these guys are not robots that can simply be seconded to Munster/Leinster/Connacht/wherever. The next generation of youngsters will have spent their youth watching their province, most likely in the grounds, and will have dreams of playing in a particular shirt. Of course Madigan would want to star for Leinster first and foremost, it’s only natural. Then there’s the lifestyle/friends/family side of things too.

    But, there comes a point where a certain amount of careerism comes into play, and players sometimes have to make tough decisions about where they are most likely to achieve their playing ambitions. Sean Cronin, for example, was Limerick born and bred but made the decision to come to Leinster to further his international credentials (this was before Flannery’s retirement). Felix Jones wore his Leinster shirt to the ground on Black Sunday, but saw the queue to play 15 there and went to Munster for a quicker elevation to the first team.

    • Len

       /  September 11, 2012

      Thankfully some players do make the hard choice and move to another province, but not enough. We loose to many promising young players to English clubs. This wouldn’t be a problem for the national set up if they were willing to use players based outside of Ireland. If anything it would be an advantage to have as many of our playing population getting first team football week in week out. With only four Irish teams it would seem logical that some players go abroad. I do think that something needs to be done to persuade players to relocate to other Irish provinces, if only on a loan basis, to fill the gaps with Irish players where possible. I don’t know how this could be achieved.

    • zdm

       /  September 11, 2012

      Jackson will be getting experience of big Pro-12 and HC matches under the watchful eye of a Springbok international half back and the tutelage of one of the best fly halves Ireland have produced in Daddy Humph – why would he want to go dirt tracking with Leinster?

      • radge fan

         /  September 12, 2012

        Having Pienaar always there to take on the responsibility could just as easily stunt Jackson’s growth.

  16. Simon O'Keeffe

     /  September 11, 2012

    Think all concerned at Leinster just going to have to get used to us having 2 really good specialist 10’s but if he stays fit he will get tonnes of Pro12 games.
    Madigan won’t get near Ireland 22 til Kidney goes; Keatley will probably get the nod initially at least for A games again, its almost Dr Phil v Holwell again 🙂

    • radge fan

       /  September 12, 2012

      If Keatley was with Leinster, you’d probably be hyping him just like Madigan bearing in mind that Keatley was the 10 that steered his team to an excellent away win in Edinburgh and was MOTM against Treviso last week (who are a tad better than the Dragons).

      • Come on Radge Fan, that’s a bit of a stretch. Madigan is not being ‘hyped up’ on the basis of one home game against the Dragons. He’s coming off the back of a terrific breakthrough season in which he piloted Leinster to the top of the Pro12 and scored eight tries. He’s got a range of passing that’s even better than Sexton or Rog (both excellent passers), and of course, some flaws in his game too. Keatley has had a good start to the season (as we stated in the piece) but it’s too soon to get carried away – he started off well last season too but couldn’t sustain it. We’re watching the 10 situation in Munster with interest though.

        And how exactly are Treviso better than Dragons? They finished level with 36 points in the log last season, and both rested a load of first teamers last week.

      • radge fan

         /  September 12, 2012

        WoC – Has it slipped your mind that Leinster went down 45-20 to the Scarlets the week before. Its not as if Scarlets had a host of internationals starting either. Keatley has had a solid start to the season (and that is all), Madigan hasn’t even had that and yet his name is being bandied around that he should start against Fiji in the autumn down in Thomond (which probably wouldn’t appeal to him anyway since the ground is in Munster and he’d have to use the home dressing room!).

        • Radge Fan, if you want to flood the blog with contrarian comments we’d prefer if you could be a little more accurate and a little less facetious in your reasoning.

          The Scarlets team you allude to contained ten internationals out of fifteen starters, including two of their stars, George North and Scott Williams and an all-Welsh international backrow. The also had a strong bench including Rhys Priestland, Matt Rees and Jonathan Davies. Meanwhile, it was acknowledged by many commentators that Ian Madigan was Leinster’s best player on the day (http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/sport/2012/0903/1224323533666.html). Indeed, it would be fair to argue that Madigan has been Leinster’s best player in both the opening two games – so he’s had a good start to the season.

          Here’s the Scarlets team in full:

          L Williams (capped); G North (capped), G Maule, S Williams (capped), A Fenby; A Thomas, T Knoyle (capped); R Jones (capped), K Owens (capped), D Manu (capped by Fiji), G Earle, R Kelly, A Shingler (capped), J Turnbull (capped), R McCusker (capped)

          We understand this does not fit the reality you want to believe in, but we would prefer if you could try not to stretch the facts to breaking point.

  17. radge fan

     /  September 12, 2012

    The average age of that Scarlets team was about 20 and with the exception of George North, most of them (I don’t think one Ba-Baas cap is considered to be capped internationally as in the case of Liam Williams), have about 2 caps to their name (against someone like Fiji). Edinburgh put out a much more internationally seasoned team and Keatley managed to orchestrate a win).

    I think Ian Madigan has played well, but I’m not too sure there is as much between him and Keatley as some would like to think if you are going on their last 2 games. Certainly not enough to dismiss Keatley in such a disparaging way as Simon has in his post above.

    • “…going on their last 2 games”! You’re a hoot, radge fan. Never change. Never!

      • Radge Fan

         /  September 13, 2012

        Another way of saying recent form WofC – they’ve only played 2 games this season! Anyway, do you still count a cap against the Ba-Baas as an international cap ?!!

  18. Anonymous

     /  September 14, 2012

    Madigan at 15 for the Treviso game. Holds with a few of the points above.

    • None of ours anyway! We’re a bit blindsided by that one. Not a viable long-term move for him really, probably more of a reflection of a lack of outside backs currently fit and available.

      • Stevo

         /  September 14, 2012

        Isa’s on the bench, so I think if they’re starting Madigan at full-back it’s because they genuinely want to see how he performs there. Showing a bit of versatility might be one way Madigan might get more game time this year. After all, injuries happen.

  19. jaybee

     /  September 16, 2012

    Didn’t try the TG4 streaming so I don’t know how it went but Madigan played a lot of rugby at U20s level at full back behind Ian McKinley and Andrew Burke who were the starting 10s (where are they know . . .). Nev Spence played on that team too. Very sad news this morning

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