Cormac Byrne: Who will replace Jonathan Sexton at outhalf for Leinster?
WITH Leinster confirming they are in the market for a new number 10 for next season, the question remains whether the three-time Heineken Cup champions will go for a marquee signing or a back-up flyhalf to Ian Madigan.
Leinster have a history of importing five-eights from abroad including the likes Argentinean legend Felipe Contepomi to lesser lights who played important squad roles like Aussie Shaun Berne and Kiwi David Holwell in the past.
Let’s take a look at the players looking to replace the Racing Metro bound Jonathan Sexton and those looking to to play second string to Madigan.
(1) Ian Madigan (23 years old, 68 Leinster caps, 0 Ireland caps)
THE current number two for Joe Schmidt has been hugely impressive this season when deputising for Sexton and has been endorsed by a number of Leinster’s senior players as the future number 10.
In previous seasons Madigans place-kicking had been called into question and was behind Fergus McFadden and Isa Nacewa but that has all changed and his kicking percentage has risen close to an impressive 80pc success rate.
He has also become a potent threat in general play with his dynamic running style which has yielded him six tries in 19 appearances this season.
Questions remain as to whether he has the presence to orchestrate Leinster’s attack effectively against top opposition in the Heineken Cup.
(2) Morne Steyn (28 year old, 106 Bulls caps, 48 South Africa caps)
ONE of the most talented number 10s in world rugby who is known for his tactical prowess and incredible accuracy from placed-kicks.
Since taking over as regular Springbok outhalf fron Ruan Pienaar in 2009, Steyn has sent records tumbling.
Steyn also holds the record for most consecutive successful kicks at goal in Test play since statistics for that category were first kept in the late 1980s.
He had a streak of 41 successful attempts that ended on 6 November 2010 against Ireland and was also the leading points scorer at the last World Cup.
Steyn will almost certainly move to Europe in the summer but the Blues would have to fight off the attentions of Stade Francais for his services. A daunting task with their financial clout.
(1) Noel Reid (22 years old, Leinster caps 12)
Currently in the Leinster academy, the former St Michael’s College man has shown glimpses of promise and could make the requisite improvement with more game time.
He has started three Rabo games this season and appears to be held in high regard.
Hard to say whether he will be ready to fill Madigan’s current role at the club.
(2) Andrew Goodman (30 years old, Leinster Caps 7)
The Kiwi’s preferred position is centre but he is comfortable across the backline, including out-half and has a decent return from placed-balls throughout his career.
Like Isa Nacewa he is very versatile and can play almost anywhere across the backline but lacks pedigree for a sustained period at number 10.