Wednesday 17 July 2019

Madigan vows to be his own man

Ian Madigan, pictured, has refused to copy Ireland rival Johnny Sexton, despite admitting the Racing Metro man is the world's best fly-half
Ian Madigan, pictured, has refused to copy Ireland rival Johnny Sexton, despite admitting the Racing Metro man is the world's best fly-half

Ian Madigan has refused to mimic Johnny Sexton even though he admitted his Ireland rival is the "in-form fly-half in the world".

Madigan vowed to stick to his natural approach if called to replace Sexton from the bench in Saturday's pivotal RBS 6 Nations clash against Wales in Cardiff.

An Irish-record 11th consecutive Test victory would leave them on the brink of both retaining the Six Nations title and completing the Grand Slam.

Leinster star Madigan conceded that Ireland lynchpin Sexton is currently the world's best playmaker - but said it would be folly to try to copy the British and Irish Lion's approach.

"I think Johnny definitely is the in-form fly-half in the world at the moment," said Madigan.

"There's a few other out-halves playing very well at the moment, Camille Lopez was playing very well leading into the Six Nations and Dan Biggar's really stepped up for Wales in the last two games.

"He's very much the heartbeat of that Welsh side and a real leader for them.

"So for me they are the guys setting the benchmark.

"I wouldn't mould my game on what they are doing, I would just focus on what I'm doing.

"And if I keep working hard on my game I'll be able to push them hard."

Madigan struggled when replacing Sexton in the closing stages of Ireland's 19-9 victory over England in Dublin, blasting two loose line kicks to hand Stuart Lancaster's men late momentum.

Sexton hobbled out of that March 1 clash with hamstring trouble but has completed his return to fitness to take his place at 10 for the trip to the Millennium Stadium.

Ireland skills coach Richie Murphy also works first-hand with Madigan at Leinster, but earlier this week admitted the 25-year-old was below par in his cameo against England.

Madigan himself pledged he will not be fazed if pressed into service after one minute or 79 in Cardiff this weekend - and rejected suggestions Ireland rely too heavily on near-peerless fly-half Sexton.

"When I'm picked to be on the bench I still prepare like I'm starting," said Madigan.

"So if it does come to it that Johnny does go down before the match or early on, I'll be ready to go.

"When I'm sitting on the bench I'll be playing the game in my mind as though I'm on the field, so when there's a lineout I would be thinking, 'If I was out there now what call would I be playing?'.

"And as you see the play unfolding you think what you would do next.

"So when it does come to the stage where you come off the bench, I feel as if I've been in the game despite not having played in it.

"I wouldn't read too much into those comments about being too reliant on him (Sexton) or whatever it was, unless they came from someone like Joe Schmidt, or a fellow player."

Ireland boss Joe Schmidt has refused to slip into the "double jeopardy" of second-guessing Wales coach Warren Gatland this weekend meanwhile.

Shrewd Kiwi coach Schmidt bamboozled himself on purpose merely to illustrate the pitfalls of trying to unpick the thought processes of compatriot, friend and rival Gatland on Saturday.

Former Leinster boss Schmidt warned against adapting Ireland's game plan purely to counteract strategies Wales may not even employ.

"I'm not sure what he's thinking," said Schmidt of Wales coach Gatland.

"It's almost double jeopardy to start to think about what he might think we might think we're going to do, and then think that we might think about doing something else.

"And I'm not that smart - I got lost at the first 'think'.

"So we'll just try to work away, vary our game, and play as much as we can to our strengths.

"People have reported on some of those, but we like to mix our game up, even though people have talked about how much we kick.

"It was great to see someone do a bit of homework and work out we'd passed more than anyone else as well."

PA Media

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