Saturday 3 December 2016

Ronan O'Gara insists Madigan 'good enough' if Johnny Sexton is injured at World Cup

Published 01/04/2015 | 02:30

O'Gara believes Sexton’s deputy Ian Madigan has the mentality to deal with the penalty miss in the final Six Nations game against Scotland
O'Gara believes Sexton’s deputy Ian Madigan has the mentality to deal with the penalty miss in the final Six Nations game against Scotland

Former Munster and Ireland out-half Ronan O'Gara has brushed aside fears that Joe Schmidt's side could be too reliant on Jonathan Sexton ahead of their World Cup title tilt later this year.

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And the Racing Metro assistant coach, bidding to reach the Champions Cup semi-final by beating Saracens this week, believes Sexton's deputy Ian Madigan has the mentality to deal with the penalty miss in the final Six Nations game against Scotland.

"It's a compliment to Johnny that people are worried about this issue," O'Gara says. "There has always attention on Irish tens, back to David Humphreys and myself, people asking what happens if one guy gets injured. That jersey has been a position of strength.

"The thing with Johnny is his behaviours are so good that he becomes a massive loss when he leaves the team. But I think the competition beneath him is good enough.

"Ian has mentally matured really well. The way he took the lessons from that missed kick in Murrayfield will prove very important to him in the future.

"He missed the kick but he also realised the importance of it before he took it, and then what happened when he kicked it the way he did. He didn't brush it under the carpet like some players might have done. It's a credit to his mental ability.

"There's no harm in failing, there's a harm in not preparing to fail. So he has all that going for him."

Madigan will be a key component as Leinster also attempt to reach the semi-finals of the Champions Cup as they face Bath in Saturday's Aviva Stadium quarter-final, albeit he will not play at out-half.

Many of the players who featured in the gritty Ireland win against England during the Six Nations will be involved but Bath coach Mike Ford has warned opposite number Matt O'Connor that Leinster will face a completely different challenge.

"No-one plays like us in the Premiership," he said. "Even if Leinster watch a lot of how we have played in previous games, we are a decision-making team and we thrive off what's in front of us. It makes us unique.

"I read Matt O'Connor saying the blueprint to beat Bath will be the same as Ireland used to beat England. They are going to look to bottle up our scrum-half and get to George Ford.

"We are expecting an aerial battle but I don't think they will put it up in the air as much as Ireland.

"We want to play the Bath way, which is to unload things quickly but unless we get our fundamentals in place we are not going to win."

Connacht will start Robbie Henshaw at inside-centre against Gloucester in Friday's Challenge Cup quarter-final as Bundee Aki remains injured, but Mils Muliaina and Craig Ronaldson will be fit.

Irish Independent

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