Tenwatch

Three years ago, when BOD went down, we started a #thirteenwatch series – we joked at the outset that Deccie would take a careful look at all the contenders and pick Keith Earls anyway. In the event, when Face Doesn’t Fit got injured himself in January, Deccie’s decision was made for him – Cave was edging the shirt on form, but Deccie, 2012 edition, wasn’t one for taking a punt – this was the year of zero non injury-enforced changes. Anyway, Earls it was, and it was the right call – he had a good series and justified Deccie’s call. This year, the equivalent debate is at number ten – and will the Milky Bar Kid take a careful look at the contenders and pick Ian Madigan anyway?

Based on Joe Schmidt’s Ireland career to date, no one player is indispensable – any personnel loss has been ridden with ease, and this has included the likes of DJ Church, Sean O’Brien, Chris Henry, BOD and Tommy Bowe at different times – all have been replaced from within the squad without a huge discernible impact on performances and results. While it’s tempting to think Schmidt is an alchemist who can turn provincial base into national gold, he’s just the ultimate pragmatist – the system is everything, and every cog knows his role to a tee. The provincial academy system isn’t perfect, but it does tend to produce mature, driven and intelligent players (the type who are happy to go for a 10k run at 6am when they are 17) – this is a boon for Schmidt as even square peg backups (Rhys Ruddock the openside flanker?) tend to be able to slot into round holes in the system. However, if you were to peg any Ireland players as indispensable, you’d stick that label on Paul O’Connell and Jonny Sexton – both among the best in their position worldwide, anchors of a Lions series win (admittedly an ugly and scrappy one against a rubbish team) and pretty much impossible to replicate.

In O’Connell’s case, Iain Henderson, while a very different player, is likely to be the next giant of Irish second row play (metaphorically of course – Big Dev hasn’t gone away you know), but he isn’t there yet. In Sexton’s case, there is a cadre of players who are all of a pretty similar standard right now behind him – none offer quite the same combinastion of tactical brain, passing skill or on-field leadership, and none are currently making and ironclad case to be his backup. And it’s not just an academic question either – Sexton has been stood down and his return is at the mercy of the French medical system. Repeated concussions mean that training of any sort has yet to be possible, and the earliest return date is the 14th of February – when Ireland have the small matter of France at home and before which Ireland face Italy in Rome.   Given the importance of Sexton to the national team, and the fact that this is a World Cup year, we shouldn’t rule out the possibility of not seeing Sexton in green until August. Schmidt is looking for not just a reserve, but a test starter.

In Joe Schmidt’s first season, the situation in November coalesced that if Sexton went down, Paddy Jackson would step in and start at 10, as was the case against Samoa, but that Ian Madigan offered a better bench option as he covered other positions in the backline – he was in the 23 for the Wobblies and BNZ. When it came to the Six Nations, Jackson had edged in front, manning the bench in four Six Nations games to Madigan’s one. Jackson was first choice at Ulster, while Madge was having a difficult season at Leinster and was stuck on the bench behind Gopperth.  The view in April was that Jackson would start in Argentina, and it looked like he would have a chance to cement his place as Sexton’s backup. Meanwhile, Munster’s Ian Keatley was further down the pecking order.

In the second half of this year, its tightened up considerably – Jackson went down with a back injury (related to his kicking style) and missed the Argentina tour.  Meanwhile, Madigan sparked into form in the Pro12 playoffs, albeit playing in the centre.  He played both games in Argentina and emerged in credit as Ireland secured two hard-fought, if workmanlike wins.

Jackson returned for Ulster’s ERCC campaign, but has looked rusty, and missed out on the squad for the November series. He has spent more time recuperating, but looked something like his old self in the RDS on Saturday – playing flat on the gainline and bringing the backline into the game well early on, but he faded from view as Leinster gradually got on top. His biggest problem is he is still not kicking goals – something that is recovery driven, for now anyway, although his place kicking has often been shaky.  Ireland do not have a Ruan Pienaar in the team, and the 10 will be required to kick the all-important two- and three-pointers.

This November, Madigan started for Ireland against Georgia and was in the 23 for the big games. He again played well in those matches, even winning the crucial penalty turnover to win the game against Australia.  He has recently been getting some extended gametime at outhalf for Leinster, and it’s fair to say its been a bit of a curates egg. He has been standing a mile behind the gainline and is struggling to get the Leinstertainment thing going. As ever, his tactical kicking – judging when to kick and executing well – is a way off the highest level, and this is the biggest black mark in his game.

We have the feeling that at this stage of his career, Madigan may never develop into a strong ‘controlling 10’, but he is outstanding at certain aspects of the game.  Keatley and an in-form Jackson are probably more rounded footballers, more Sexton-like, but neither offers the same game-breaking ability or explosiveness.  Even at provincial level, when the ERCC kicks back in and Matt O’Connor has full jurisdiction on team selection, it will be interesting to see if he reverts to Jimmy Gopperth – it would certainly seem the logical MOC choice for a trip to Wasps and their gargantuan pack. But it is also worth noting the Madigan’s goal kicking is not juist the best of the bunch but exceptional bny any standard – perhaps even better than Sexton’s (we can’t locate Sexton’s Top14 stats for a complete comparison – feel free to educate us):

  • Madigan 90.3%: Pro12 36/38 ERCC 20/24
  • Keatley 79.7%: Pro12 33/41 ERCC 14/18
  • Jackson 76.7%: Pro12 17/22 ERCC 6/8

Ian Keatley has been something of the ugly duckling of this bunch – given his career path it’s pretty tempting to dismiss him as a modestly talented journeyman. Indeed, until very recently, he’s been painted merely as a placeholder between Munster ligind Rog and future Munster ligind JJ Hanrahan – a filler-inner until Hanrahan is ready. In reality, since Keatley took over as Munster starter, he has continually improved and is playing at a level few – and not us – would have predicted possible two years ago. He still has a tendency to disappear out of games a little, but he is a solid option, and has the advantage of being Conor Murray’s regular partner.

Based on Joe Schmidt’s Spanish Inquisition-esque ruthless pragmatism, he will select whoever fits the system best – right now that seems likely to be Madigan, who is familiar with Schmidt’s methods and is effectively the incumbent. But it isn’t set in stone – this time last year, Madigan seemed likely to be backup for the Six Nations, but Paddy Jackson edged ahead in January. Jackson, nearly three years younger than Madigan and five younger than Keatley, has a more impressive body of work at that age that either of the contenders (it’s easy to forget how young he is – he is a month older than Ronan O’Gara was on the occasion of that Scotland game, and a year and a half younger than Sexton was when he got his first Ireland start), and seems likely to improve further as time time goes on – but in the here and now, he feels like a coltish and unreliable option. Plus he is coming back from an injury and re-modelling his kicking action to prevent further injury. We’d have him in third place at this moment.

Has Keatley done enough to oust Madigan?  At provincial level, you could certainly make that argument – Madigan has yet to be selected at 10 for a European game this season. Part of that is down to backline injuries and Madigan’s ability to fill other positions, but it makes it more difficult for Schmidt to pick him at 10 if he hasn’t been playing there in the important provincial matches.  It’s very easy to blame that on Matt O’Connor, but O’Connor is a professional rugby coach who sees Madigan every day, and is yet to be convinced that Madigan is the best outhalf he has. If Sexton was fit, we’d be 100% certain that Madigan would be in the 23 – but don’t rule out Schmidt picking Keatley to start and keeping Madigan in his 23. It’s still odds-against at this moment, but Keatley is pretty close right now.  It’s still all up for grabs, with two rounds of European matches to show what they can do.

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71 Comments

  1. Yossarian

     /  January 6, 2015

    Madigan showed both sides to his game against Ulster. First half looked uncomfortable kicking and standing deep. Second half looked very good scored his sneaky try and the confidence flowed from that. Stood flatter to the gain line and started zipping the passes.Wonder will schmidt give licence to play like that from the off.and adjust team Irelands approach accordingly or will he look for a 10 to kick like we have thus far.

    • Leinsterlion

       /  January 6, 2015

      What happened at half time? First half was vintage MOCball, deep ten, shapeless morass. Second half was probably our best half of rugby in a long while(and even at that it wasnt great, such has been our decline since the advent of the MOCalypse). Madigan playing flat with at least parity in the packs and some front foot ball with options(see Conan, Fitz) is lethal, a nightmare for defences to cover, no one else offers that, not even Sexton.

      • Billy

         /  January 6, 2015

        Are you both trolling?? How many line breaks/try scoring opportunities did he engineer with his pack dominating?

        • D6W

           /  January 6, 2015

          At the very least, he engineered 1 try scoring opportunity which he finished off himself!

          • Amiga500

             /  January 6, 2015

            I wouldn’t use taking advantage of a sleeping defense with a quick tap as evidence he can create in the usual game environ.

          • D6W

             /  January 6, 2015

            “I wouldn’t use taking advantage of a sleeping defense with a quick tap as evidence he can create in the usual game environ.”

            That was not Billy’s question. But you could use that try as evidence of being alert to an opportunity and willing to take a risk and back himself. All characteristics you want in an OH. And he definitely can create in a game environmenet, even his worst critics would not dispute that.

          • Amiga500

             /  January 7, 2015

            “That was not Billy’s question.”

            No, it wasn’t. But it was a response to your answer to it.

  2. D6W

     /  January 6, 2015

    Admittedly Madigan is not at his best at the moment. Maybe this is down to being rusty at playing 10, or possibly the malaise and bad play affecting the entire Leinster team. That said, he is still playing better than the other contenders mentioned. But with Sexton out, whoever comes in at 10 will have to do the placekicking. And on the stats, that has to be Madigan. That is the one area of his game where he is better than Sexton.

  3. curates_egg

     /  January 6, 2015

    Not sure any of those 3 actually suits the way Ireland played in 2014. The key question will be if we continue to play that way or if we change. If we continue with the up and under, Keatley might be worth the punt (I’ll get my coat).

    The whole comparison exercise is very difficult to do objectively. Provincial blinkers always seem to cloud judgement.

    One thing that is certain is that Keatley has massively benefited from being backed and given a long run at 10 for Munster. At this point last year, a lot of people seemed to believe Hanrahan would be the starting 10 this year but Keatley has gotten more and more assured (after being a total curate’s egg himself last year).

    Back in the 2012-13 season, when Madigan was getting a consistent run at 10, he looked exciting and accomplished. Last season was a total write-off: and you could go back and forth arguing why. Did he start at 10 more than 5 times in 2014 for Leinster? More than anything, he now needs a run at 10 (and to be backed by his management). Keatley proves why. If he gets a run of 5 or 6 games and the flaws in his game remain, well then it will be tougher to continue making the case for him. Until he does, it is not convincing or credible to make a case against him.

    The place-kicking is certainly an important consideration though.

    • Madigan needs regular football alright, but on that subject I hear Madigan to Connacht is a done deal. We’re giving them Ian Porter in return. 😉

      • Leinsterlion

         /  January 6, 2015

        MOC probably thinks Porter has what it takes to keep Sexton out of the Leinster team

  4. Sexton has only 4 Top 14 starts this year. Were he to be out for the season, this leaves him costing his employers about as much per game as Cristiano Ronaldo does Real. Ouch.

    Anyway, les stats:
    Top 14 (4games) – 10/13.
    (not)HEC (2 games) – 9/10.

    Total: 19/23 ~ 83%

    • Thanks salmson – if you incorporate Sexton’s record for Ireland (12/12) that brings him to 88.6%. Madigan was 9/10 for Ireland so stays at 90%.

  5. Leinsterlion

     /  January 6, 2015

    “It’s very easy to blame that on Matt O’Connor”
    Because most of Leinster(and by extension, Madigans) problems are clearly his fault.

    ” but O’Connor is a professional rugby coach”
    In name only, AIL teams have more tactical variety.

    “who sees Madigan every day, and is yet to be convinced that Madigan is the best outhalf he has..”
    Plenty of coaches make the wrong decision on who their best player in a given position is. Its a long long list of coaches who have torpedoed their own teams due to their blindness is picking players in key positions, even Joe Schmidt is not exempt in this regard, so why should a clown like MOC be given a pass?

    MOC picking an utter journeyman who struggled to get him game at SR level (and was seen as no more then a mid ranking ITM cup player) and who then moves to perennial strugglers Newcastle(and winds up in the Championship) over a dominant front foot player like Madigan is indefensible. Why are you trying to give him a pass? Gopperth has been largely shit, is foreign, is leaving at the end of the season, and MOC is still playing him? MOC plays a crap brand of rugby, Madigan doesnt fit into his vision so he’s not picked, end of story.

    • Billy

       /  January 6, 2015

      Not a clue.

      If you don’t know, don’t just make it up.

      Gopperth was a solid Super Rugby player, who probably would have been capped were it not for Dan Carter, Nick Evans and Luke McAlister. He went to Newcastle and pretty much single-handedly kept them in the division, was top points scorer in the EP twice in a shocking team.

      MOC was backs coach at the Brumbies during their golden era with Larkham at 10, literally one of the best ever club teams playing brilliant rugby with one of the greats at 10 – you might not rate him as a head coach but he knows a thing or two about 10s and back play…

      • Leinsterlion

         /  January 6, 2015

        Gopperth was a “solid super rugby player” and “would have been capped by NZ”? LOL he was barely a super rugby player, google some news articles and forums of his time in super rugby, he was never in a million years in contention for a NZ cap, he has one A team cap team, get off the stage with that nonsense, an utterly shot Holwell played as much for the Blues (as Gops did) at the end of his career, was Holwell on the verge of a NZ call up?

        Clearly MOC has had everything he knew about back play Leicestered out of him as both his stints at Leicester and Leinster have been horrendous in terms of attacking play, and dont start with the typical MOC defender response “hurr durr, try scoring record, means we done play good”. MOC coaches and plays conservative bosh rugby, look at how deep he instructs his tens to sit, they dont play like that in SR.

        • Billy

           /  January 6, 2015

          63 Super Rugby appearances and an All Blacks A team cap by the time he was 25 – not bad really

          Holwell – not a bad player at all – was 31 that season for the Blues, not exactly shot.

          • Donal

             /  January 6, 2015

            Ah to be fair Jimmy is a million miles from an AB. His name wasn’t exactly coming up during their RWC injury crisis. I think he is a fine player, better than what he’s shown for Leinster recently, but they don’t throw out caps willy nilly.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  January 6, 2015

            Did you watch Holwell play? He was well of the pace, his legs had gone at that point, 31 or not, cant remember how many games he got, but when he was on he was just not at that level.

            We’ll have to agree to differ on Gopperth, funny how a guy with such potential bounced in and out of two SR teams and winded up in the lower confines of the EP and hasnt done much else since..

          • toro toro

             /  January 8, 2015

            His name wasn’t coming up during the injury crisis because even in crisis they refuse to pick overseas-based players. Nick Evans wasn’t considered for eactly that reason – Stephen Donald was (eventually!) allowed to play only via the loophole of not having yet turned out in England.

  6. Andrew097

     /  January 6, 2015

    Madigan is a fine player who passes, kicks, runs and tackles probably better then all his rivals. He is probably suffering from “Hook syndrome” named after a great, to be Welsh out half who was played here, there and everywhere. Of course this did Hooks ability to play outhalf no good at all.
    It’s my biggest fear that a fine possibly world class outhalf never reaches that potential because of the constant position change.
    At centre, fullback he will always be a filler in at outhalf he might become something better.

  7. Hard to make a call either way. I would imagine Joe will call all three provincial players into the wider training squad, especially if Sexton doesn’t show any signs of improvements (although no-one really knows how good/bad his health is, see the media frenzy over Geoff Parling’s concussions last Autumn).

    The way things are I would probably go with the two Ians to make the 23, as they’ve had the gametime and Paddy is still feeling his way back after missing another few weeks due to a shoulder injury. That said it’s awfully hard to call. While Madigan is always an X-Factor, Murray will have built up a lot of gametime alongside Keatley, which you’d imagine will count for something.

  8. Billy

     /  January 6, 2015

    Really good, balanced article.

    I think most Leinster supporters struggle to see past the end of their nose on this one.

    The way I see it Madigan’s world-class goal-kicking and versatility make him excellent bench material behind Sexton but I couldn’t trust him to run a big game from the off. I think even the most die-hard Leinster supporters agree deep down.

    Keatley is far from world-class but as the article states, people didn’t think he was H-Cup quality two years ago either. I would love Jackson to kick on as I believe he has the most potential of the three but on current form you just couldn’t include him.

    • D6W

       /  January 6, 2015

      So assuming Sexton is out for Italy game, who would you start at 10 on current form?

      • Billy

         /  January 6, 2015

        I think Madigan would do a job against Italy but less so against France. I’d probably start Keatley with Madigan on the bench. Jackson needs form and to become the first choice kicker for Ulster if he even wants the Irish 10 shirt – goal kicking is too important at international level. I’d definitely play him in the Wolfhounds game.

        • D6W

           /  January 6, 2015

          And in the not unrealistic scenario of Sexton not being ready for France, I assume you would also pick Keatley? Who has missed twice as many kicks at goal as Madigan?

    • curates_egg

       /  January 6, 2015

      See my problem with this post is the double-standards you apply to Keatley and Madigan – so your nose must be getting in the way too. Most people didn’t think Keatley was H-Cup standard last season but he was backed by the management and given a long run at ten…and it has paid off. Madigan is 2 years younger and hasn’t had a run at 10 since the end of 2012/13 season. I don’t think many would argue against the claim that he has more potential than Keatley. It would be good to see him get a game at 10 against Wasps in Coventry. If he can’t hack that, then the case to start Keatley against France would be be very strong. Until Madigan gets as much support and backing at ten as the two other contenders have, it is just not a very balanced debate though.

      The argument that MOC seems him week in-week out and doesn’t trust him is fine. However, it ignores the fact that there are major questions about MOC’s judgement. Just as it ignores the fact that the other coach to work with him (Schmidt) has also seen him week in-week out and clearly has another judgement. I know who’s judgement I respect more.

      This time 5 years ago, a 24.5 year old Sexton had been sent off to the wilderness by Cheika after some serious curate’s eggs of performances and was being written off by plenty of the Leinster faithful. Injury opened the door for him and he then got a long run and the backing of management. You get the picture.

      • Actually this obe was written by the Ulster half who dearly wants PJ to be of the required standard!

        • curates_egg

           /  January 6, 2015

          This time last year Jackson would have got the nod hands down, although he was outplayed by Madigan last year in Ravers. He is still very young and has plenty of time to play for Ireland. Not really in the reckoning this time round though.

          • Billy

             /  January 7, 2015

            Really? The night Jackson was Man of the Match, scoring all Ulster’s points including a try resulting from a blockdown of Madigan’s kick? That same match?

          • curates_egg

             /  January 7, 2015

            Mea culpa. I was thinking of the previous season’s fixture in January, which we also lost but where Jackson had a bad night. Last season we played in the RDS in January. After a certain point, they all start blending in together.

          • curates_egg

             /  January 7, 2015

            Got me thinking about the zany loopy pass Madigan threw to put McFadden in at the end, so I tracked down the highlights (and skipped to the end): http://ssqare.com/ssqare/YtVideo/Index?videoId=FwuF7fDMjDA

            I get that a lot of people don’t like or have faith in Madigan (even if I disagree) but even the begrudgers would have to admit that he tries and pulls off things that no other player in Ireland does. I hope I can get to watch him playing for at least one of the two teams I follow for a long time.

      • Billy

         /  January 6, 2015

        OK, well you’re getting slightly hypothetical there. Removing all ifs and buts Madigan has not played well at 10. As such, Keatley is very much in the equation. Also, I’m not a Munster fan, I’m a Leinster fan, albeit a lapsed one.

        The notion that Madigan has never been given a chance by MOC simply isn’t true. Example, Northampton away last year – the biggest game of the season at that point – Madigan was picked and was part of a very good team performance, without being standout amazing. The next week against Northampton he was utterly anonymous in a game where they needed their 10 to stand up. That, to me, felt pivotal.

        I would also say that Keatley reacted very well to coming under pressure from Hanrahan last year. It hasn’t been like that this year but they really pushed each other on last year whereas Madigan seemed to go into his shell a bit with the pressure from Gopperth.

        • D6W

           /  January 6, 2015

          “I’d PROBABLY start Keatley”
          “As such, Keatley is VERY MUCH IN THE EQUATION”

          If you want to talk about what Leinster fans think deep down, I would take a look at your own quotes. Even you can’t bring yourself to emphatically choose Keatley over Madigan.

          • Billy

             /  January 6, 2015

            Well in the first statement I’m talking about what I’d do and the second statement is more about the general situation.

            In any case, I don’t think it’s clear cut. I’d sum it up as follows from my perspective: Pick Keatley and you’re probably losing 10% off the tee. Pick Madigan and you’re losing a bit of control and decision-making around the pitch.

      • “Most people didn’t think Keatley was H-Cup standard last season”

        Is this really true? I had certainly been hoping and calling for him to start ahead of Rog for almost the entirety of the latter’s final season. I’m pretty sure there was even a blog on here saying he should be starting and that O’Gara’s race was run. (And it was the subject of much wailing and gnashing of teeth on Munsterfans, but most things are.)

        Tbh I think anyone who was casually dismissing him as not being up to some notional “HEC standard” probably didn’t watch him play for Munster very much. He’s been frustratingly inconsistent at times, but he’s been good to excellent in nearly every big game he’s been called upon to play since he arrived.

        More directly on topic, I think it’s almost an ironclad certainty that Schmidt will take a careful look at all the contenders and pick Ian Madigan anyway. Even if Madigan has a dreadful January. Keatley is the only credible contender and came on at 12 outside Madigan in his only appearance for Ireland under Schmidt to date, when he had been playing 10 and Madigan 12 at club level… Which is not a great sign. And Schmidt knows Madigan for years, Madigan knows the system, etc.

        • Billy

           /  January 6, 2015

          That statement may just reflect my Munster supporting mates! I was certainly skeptical of his ability to pilot Munster (probably based mainly on under 20s club rugby tbh) but as you said he’s met every challenge he’s faced (Toulon being a notable one for me).

          I’d love Madigan to prove me wrong in the same way but it hasn’t happened yet. Even the Ulster game on the weekend just reinforced my doubts about him.

  9. Donal

     /  January 6, 2015

    I hope I’m wrong but I don’t think we can really call POC among the best in his position worldwide anymore. Even in the Northern hemisphere I would put Lawes, Launchbury, Alun-Wyn Jones and maybe Maestri/Toner ahead of him.

    He had some really fine spells in the Autumn internationals but struggled a bit before and after. He was thoroughly outplayed in the Connacht game by his less rated counterparts. I know his totem-esque qualities are unquestionable but you’d not find too many rugby fans outside this country picking him in their fantasy team. Here is hoping he is saving the tank for the big days.

      • Donal

         /  January 6, 2015

        Munster fans voting in numbers? 😉 I am a big fan of O’Connell, even was during the old Leinster/Munster hate days, but his Munster performances lately haven’t been near his old standard. He is carrying a lot more which never seems to work out for him.

        By the by IMO that list is pretty terrible. No place for Kieran Read, De Villiers is the best 12 in the world??? an no SA in the front row!!

        • seiko

           /  January 6, 2015

          You’d think Munster fans voting in numbers would have pulled Murray over the line!

          For the record, POC was rather busy being the top tackler with 28 against Connacht!

    • osheaf01

       /  January 8, 2015

      Alun Wyn-Jones? No, overrated. Seems to go missing in big games for me.
      Courtney Lawes is a bit of a thug in the Bakkies Botha “enforcer” mould – comparing apples and oranges there.
      Launchbury is the best European lock IMVHO.

  10. Xyz

     /  January 6, 2015

    ” if you were to peg any Ireland players as indispensable, you’d stick that label on Paul O’Connell and Jonny Sexton – both among the best in their position worldwide, anchors of a Lions series win … and pretty much impossible to replicate.”

    You should really have Murray in there as well, as he fits that description as well. TBH, I’d have Murray fit ahead of Paulie fit if I could only have one.

    On the main thrust of your article – Schmidt will most likely have a close look at his three options at OH in training and make the call almost solely on who is best able to implement his chosen strategy. (I would expect MOC’s view on Madigan’s qualities, despite his daily front seat, to count for pretty close to zero.)

    • Donal

       /  January 6, 2015

      If anything Murray might be even more so as the drop off to the next in line is steeper. Reddan blows seriously hot and cold and Marmion is untested at international level.

      • Xyz

         /  January 6, 2015

        Was trying to say just that – badly, obviously!

        • Donal

           /  January 6, 2015

          “and make the call almost solely on who is best able to implement his chosen strategy.”

          I think this is the crux of it.

          If his chosen strategy is the kick chase low error game of 2013 I doubt Mads is the man for the job. Joe has shown before he might pick a player who can implement his gameplan even if he is widely considered to be marginally inferior overall
          than a rival (picking Dave K over Zebo). That said what works for winger selection mightn’t hold true at OH.

          • D6W

             /  January 6, 2015

            Still would leave question of who would kick penalties though. Neither Keatly nor Jackson are reliable enough, especially compared to Madigan.

  11. Lop12

     /  January 6, 2015

    Having seen probably every game Keately has played for Munster since he signed it is undoubted he has improved massively due to confidence successive coaches have had in him. Has he improved to international standard? IMO no, not at all. When he is good he is v good, on an off night you couldnt get him off the pitch quickly enough really. Struggles to hold his game together if things are not going well and tends to lose the cool a bit with those around him.

    Id walk to Dublin and bring Madigan down on my back if I thought he would move to Limerick

  12. Amiga500

     /  January 6, 2015

    The campaign starts here….

    iHumph for 10!!!

    • Donal

       /  January 6, 2015

      dHumph could still do a job…

    • Lop12

       /  January 6, 2015

      Joking aside, Gareth Steenson has been operating at a consistently higher level than many Irish tens for several seasons now. Goal kicking is superb and Exeter play a decent style of rugby. Too late for him now but probably deserved a cap. As an aside, he would be a superb signing for Connacht.

      • D6W

         /  January 6, 2015

        Not sure that is still true, but it was certainly true 2 seasons ago, when Kidney had his OH crisis.

  13. Cian

     /  January 6, 2015

    I feel pretty confident that Schmidt will pick Madigan. Keatley clearly edges it on current provincial form – while both have mixed the good with the bad when they have played, Madigan has simply not played enough at ten. Whether this is down to misfortune or MOC’s evil/idiocy/delete as appropriate, is largely irrelevant. Going on previous Irish performances, though, His Royal Hairness is clearly ahead.

    There are massive doubts about Madigan’s ability to run a game, particularly at a high level, but I don’t think these equate to an inability to fit into Joe’s Plan. I’m pretty sure he’ll do what he’s told and he’ll do it well, maybe even adding a spark (and certainly some aggressive running) at times. With a rigid game plan and Murray hopefully hitting form again, he won’t need to run things to any great extent.

  14. on the suggestion that Madigan is going to Connacht, a Leinster supporter suggests that its O’Connor who should be going and Leinster will take Lam and keep Madigan.

  15. Curates egg is right-it depends on what way Schmidt goes tactically. Reading fanning a few weeks ago he was certainly reading the runes that they would make things a bit more expansive. Therefore it has to be madigan. For the record, people keep saying he had a bad season last year. I’m not sure he did, it’s just that he wasn’t picked so much and generally not at 10. I can recall him saving leinster’s bacon on a fair few occasions from the bench and he always played selflessly wherever he was put.

    I’m not sure with the analysis that he’ll just never be a game manager either. That used to be said about his place kicking. Against ulster he put on a (trademark) passing clinic, kicked well from hand and from tee. Yes he ballsed up a few restarts trying silly stuff, but let’s not castigate good players for trying things and in fairness his silly solo dummy also brought about a try. They have ave been rare enough things lately.

    Give him the gametime and a bit of freedom and let’s see how he goes. When sexton left I remember guy easterby said something like it’s not as simple as just saying get madigan in. I’d argue that in actual fact it probably was. Gopperth should have been a competent foil and support for him. Instead gopperth has been damaged a bit by becoming the clear main man up until now and thereby the focus of a lot of frustration for leinster fans, given the decline in general play until the weekend.

  16. Riocard Ó Tiarnaigh

     /  January 6, 2015

    Let’s not forget it was Mads who came on for an injured J10 in Paris, helped close out a really tight match and win us the 6 Nations.

  17. D6W

     /  January 6, 2015

    While the Madigan/Keatley debate rages, the kicking from tee stats can’t be ignored. But it is too simplistic to say the Keatley at 79% is only 10% off Madigan at 90%.

    If you assume that 50% are gimmes and should not be counted, then the miss rate of the non-gimme kicks, but ones the captain and player felt they could make, is more important.
    Madigan: 6 missed out of 31 non-gimmes=19%
    Keatley: 12 Missed out of 29.5 non gimmes=41%

    So without going all moneyball, Keatley is twice as likely to miss a difficult kick than Madigan. That to me is something that Joe can’t ignore.

    • “110% of statistics are made up on the spot”.

      I’m not saying there’s not some validity in yourapproach. But that doesn’t mean your result is right. You’ve picked 50/50 as the rate of non gimmies:gimmies and said its the same for both. That might not necessarily true, more than likely isn’t. It could be worse or better than you think. But a ‘statistic’ thats built on an assumption is just not a statistic and doesn’t add anything to an argument.

      • D6W

         /  January 6, 2015

        The only two assumptions are the % gimmes, and that the % gimmes are the same for both. Even if % gimmes are off, the difference between Keatley and Madigan would be the same. So the real flaw is that the % gimme may not be same for both, as you say, and probably is not. But probably is not that far off either, why would it be?

        So I am not saying above is an actual stat, but rather an indicator to show that Keatley is not just 10% less good a kicker than Madigan, but the difference is much greater as the kicks get more difficult.

        • You’ve invented, with literally no basis in any form of evidence, a statistic with literally no basis it on in order to double the difference between their kicking stats. The argument deserves nothing but derision.

          • Jesus, I completely mangled that sentence.

            *You’ve invented a statistic, with literally no basis in any form of evidence, in order to double the difference between their kicking stats. The argument deserves nothing but derision.

            (Get an edit function, WordPress.)

          • toro toro

             /  January 8, 2015

            It also completely ignores the difference in what one or another captain thinks is worth trying to kick.

          • D6W

             /  January 8, 2015

            Maybe I should not have tried to quantify it, and I don’t claim it is a stat. My objective is to point out that because of the many “gimmes” that both kickers will take, the assumption that there is only a “10%” difference in standard of kicking between the two kickers, which sounds small and can be ignored, is false.

            @toro toro Interesting point. Do you think the munster captains have much more unfounded faith in Keatley than the Leinster captains have in Madigan, or that Leinster captains only kick when a kick is much easier? It is possible.

          • D6W

             /  January 8, 2015

            Btw, the iron clad stat of the miss rate is (forgetting anything about gimmes etc) is.
            Madigan missed 6 out of 62 = 9.68%
            Keatley missed 12 out of 59 = 20.34%

  18. ‘The provincial academy system isnt perfect’ and in Ulster will continue to be so until while Youth rugby is under invested. How many players from the Leinster AIL clubs have gone on to provincial rugby? Where are the players going to come from to improve Ulster AIL club standards and contribute to the academy? Where are the Ulster AIL clubs centres of excellence such as http://www.dearne-coll.ac.uk/full-time-courses/sheffield-eagles-rugby-league-centre-of-excellence/? Where is Ulster rugbys equivalent of this http://www.portugalrugbyfestival.com/ and why do the Ulster youth development squads not go to this every year? After a decade or so of promoting the 15 man game to High Schools in Ulster, with a very limited success in terms of academy graduates where is Ulster High Schools equivalent of this http://www.scottishrugby.org/news/14/06/24/royal-high-school-scoop-sevens-series? In short what have Ulster rugby been doing for a decade of youth rugby development that there are so little graduates of youth rugby to the academy ?

  19. If the 90% kicking is the difference, then Madigan could play 12 and take the kicks. He is most likely going to be 12 at Leinster when Sexton is back anyway; D’Arcy is getting old and Reid isn’t as good as Madigan. If he really wants to play 10, then as much as it pains me to say, he should move to Connacht or over seas. If not, then he could make a good international 12. He’d still have to fight for his place there, but at least his competition wouldn’t be Sexton.

    p.s. When is Nucifora gonna start moving people around like we were told he would?

  20. @LeinsterPAGuy

     /  January 6, 2015

    Eddie Hekenui must have got the 3 years under the belt. He’s number 1 on my speed-dial.

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