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Ian Madigan now lets his feet do all the talking


Ian Madigan

Ian Madigan

Ian Madigan

Ian Madigan is fast-becoming Leinster's Mr Indispensible.

Just ask his kicking coach Richie Murphy.

"His goal-kicking has been incredible. I think he's at 89% for the season which is a massive stat for us," reported the assistant coach.

Madigan would be the first to point to Murphy as a central figure in his rise to goal-kicking hero. He has become, in effect, the Leigh Halfpenny of Irish rugby.

He just doesn't miss.

You can't say the same about Jonathan Sexton, a great goal-kicker, just not 'the goal-kicker.'

The 25 year-old has registered 135 points this season from 10 matches, averaging out at 13ƒ points-per-game.

It is one area in which Madigan leads the way in Europe.

He is the leading points-scorer in the Champions Cup on 49 after three rounds, averaging out at 16º points-per-game.

It doesn't stop there.

He has kicked the most penalties, 17 out of 20 shots at goal, in the competition and been a force for good when so much of what is going on around him is below par.

"A lot of responsibility comes down onto his shoulders because we're not scoring as many tries," said Murphy.

"One of the other reasons we mightn't be scoring as many tries is because we know we're going to get three.

"We're going three, six, nine, instead of going to the corner when opportunities arrive.

"That's not a bad complaint for us to have," imparted Murphy.

Madigan first showed he had the cohones as Ireland's out-half in an Under-20 Six Nations international against the 'auld enemy' England at Dubarry Park back in 2009.

The English laid siege to the Irish defence for most of that evening as his old sparring partner at Leinster Ian McKinley kept the home side in touch.

After the clock turned red, Ireland were two points behind and going nowhere fast when Madigan took it on himself to stand back and boom out a 45-metre drop goal for a dramatic victory on a dark and dreary evening.

The Blackrock College graduate wasn't even a frontline goal-kicker then. He has since shown how it is a skill that can be learned rather than a gift given from the Gods.

He has come a long way.

"On the technical side, I'm comfortable with my technique and, on the mental side, I'm comfortable with that as well," said Madigan.

"That's down to working with Richie over the last eight years. I've built up a bank I can rely on.

"I've got a comfortable routine I can go through. If I miss a kick I generally know why and I can rely on that.

"For me, it's not about kicking six from six or seven from nine or what-not. It's about focussing on the next kick and getting that one over."

There was criticism for his passive defence at the tail end of the All Blacks' remarkable rite of passage into the record books last November. And rightly so.

He has since made physicality and decision-making key components in defence of his line as a brave and willing competitor in contact.

There has also been mental persuasion from psychological guru Enda McNulty.

"I'm doing a lot of work with Enda on how I prepare for games and my time-management outside of Leinster, not just focussing on rugby.

"It's probably been my most enjoyable year as a professional," he said.

It shows.