Tuesday 24 April 2018

Madigan handed Leinster No 10 jersey as Schmidt intervenes

Madigan: Returns to starting line-up
Madigan: Returns to starting line-up
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

IAN MADIGAN will start at out-half for Leinster against Connacht after the Irish management requested that as many of their squad members as possible play in tomorrow's derby.

Leinster skills and kicking coach Richie Murphy, himself a member of Joe Schmidt's back-room team for the Autumn Internationals, revealed that the request had come from headquarters that all squad members get vital game time before joining up in camp at Carton House on Sunday.

Madigan saw just 11 minutes of action at centre in the opening weekends of the Heineken Cup as Matt O'Connor opted to start with New Zealander Jimmy Gopperth at No 10 against the Ospreys and Castres.

The 24-year-old was included in the 34-man Ireland squad for the matches against Samoa, Australia and New Zealand and is battling with Ulster's Paddy Jackson for a place on the bench as Jonny Sexton's back-up.

He will hope to have a big impact in the inter-provincial clash this weekend to put himself firmly in the frame for further international honours after seeing Jackson off for the starting berth on the summer tour of the United States and Canada last June.

"I think we can expect Ian to start this week," Murphy confirmed.

"He has been sitting in the wings for the last couple of weeks. He needs game time in order to move him forward and he'll probably get it this week.

"The only thing we've been asked for from the Irish management is that the players going into national camp get an opportunity to play this weekend. Obviously they'll get a weekend off next weekend, so going into the Samoan match it's important that guys have game time under their belt."

Leinster are "hopeful" that Mike Ross will come back into the team to face the Westerners, but Brian O'Driscoll may not be risked as he continues to work back to fitness from the calf injury that has kept him out of action. Murphy said both were progressing, but added no risks would be taken.

Meanwhile, Murphy was asked for his appraisal of rising Connacht star Robbie Henshaw, who was selected in the Ireland squad ahead of some heavy hitters this week.

"There is no doubt he is a fine player," Murphy said. "He's playing a lot of his rugby in the centre at the moment. There has been a change in his game. His aerial stuff has been very good from full-back and his running in broken field has been strong.

"Now he's a little bit more contained in that 13 jersey, but he's running really good lines. He's a hard guy to tackle, his defence has been very good. He probably had a bad read maybe against Saracens, but besides that he's done very, very well."

Irish Independent

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