Leinster will go to market for new No 10
LEINSTER have confirmed they are on the lookout for a new out-half in the wake of Jonny Sexton's decision to leave for France.
But it remains to be seen whether the European champions will go for a marquee name or a strong back-up after skills and kicking coach Richie Murphy said he believes Ian Madigan has what it takes to replace the Ireland star.
The province lack depth at No 10, with academy prospects Noel Reid and Cathal Marsh next in line, while centre Andrew Goodman can play at out-half but is currently on a one-year deal.
Madigan is the current back-up option and the former Blackrock College player has done well when given the opportunity, showing an eye for the try-line in particular. But Murphy reckons Leinster need to strengthen their options as they look towards the post-Sexton era.
Springbok Morne Steyn is one high-profile out-half who is currently being heavily linked with a move to Europe, but it remains to be seen what calibre of pivot the province can attract.
"We definitely need to bring someone else in," said Murphy.
"It will come down to the situation of what's available. The process is ongoing. I think the situation is that we have to see what's out there and a decision has to be made on what way we have to go.
"And it's not as easy as just saying 'we'll back Ian Madigan'. Like, we will back Ian Madigan, he will play a lot of rugby, I think he's played in 70 out of the last 71 games and that's not going to change."
After their Heineken Cup exit last month, the Pro12 has taken on more importance for Leinster who welcome back Dominic Ryan, Dave Kearney and Eoin O'Malley for Friday's meeting with Cardiff Blues in Wales. Last year's beaten finalists currently sit in third place, with sixth-placed Munster just three points behind.
Shane Jennings, Isaac Boss and Leo Cullen should bring experience to their line-up, but Murphy admitted that no decision had yet been taken on the captain's future beyond the end of the season.
"No decision has been made on that yet, there's still plenty of life left in the old dog," he said. "It's a case of seeing how things progress over the next few weeks."