'I wanted to be that guy' - Ian Madigan on Johnny Sexton, and the Ireland 'goldfish bowl'
FORMER Ireland outhalf Ian Madigan has spoken of his rivalry with Johnny Sexton, and the suffocation of playing in Ireland
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, the former Leinster star admits that his inability to nail down a starting berth in the Leinster and Ireland teams - because of Sexton's form and quality - was the major factor in him leaving Ireland, first for Bordeaux and later to Bristol who he has recently helped return to the Aviva Premiership.
"I was probably envious of what Johnny had with Ireland and Leinster,” Madigan told the Telegraph. "I wanted to be that guy myself, to have that connection with the coaches, to be able to call the shots on the pitch, and that was a big reason why I left Leinster."
Madigan is now 29, and says that his time out of Ireland has allowed him to gain a little perspective - away from the 'goldfish bowl' of Irish rugby.
"When you are playing for Leinster and Ireland, it is pretty unrelenting," Madigan said. “Your family are all Leinster supporters and they might bring it up at the dinner table and your friends are all Leinster supporters and they want the inside scoop. I suppose you are a Leinster and Ireland supporter yourself, so it is nothing short of an obsession."
Madigan also told the Telegraph that he felt that his reputation as a 'maverick' was one that was given to him as a young man - but something he felt he had to move away from Ireland before he could lose it.
“Going away, having to be able to get set up in a new country, meeting 50 new players, a new coaching staff, a new support staff, a new supporter base and having to do it the following year, you do learn a lot about yourself," he said
"They were challenges but I think I am all the better for it."