| 5.2°C Dublin

Ireland star Madigan relishing battle with Johnny Sexton

Close

Johnny Sexton will return to Leinster next season. Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

Johnny Sexton will return to Leinster next season. Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

Ian Madigan has shown he has the talent to lead the Leinster backline. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Ian Madigan has shown he has the talent to lead the Leinster backline. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

/

Johnny Sexton will return to Leinster next season. Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

Ireland star Ian Madigan has said he will welcome Johnny Sexton back to Leinster next season with open arms - even though he admits that the pair may well be tussling for his favoured No 10 position.

"It's great news for Leinster and I'm delighted that Johnny is coming back because he's a great friend and he's taught me so much," says Madigan.

"There's a huge amount of rugby to be played before he comes back though, with the World Cup and everything next year. I just have to focus on my own game."

Madigan's future at Leinster has been the subject of speculation, but would seem to be more secure than that of current first-choice out-half, Jimmy Gopperth, whose contract ends next summer.

Leinster coach Matt O'Connor has favoured Gopperth at ten for the majority of the province's important games, but Madigan has been accommodated alongside him in recent weeks.

"Playing in midfield is always an option and I love playing there as well," Madigan told 'InTallaght' magazine. "But I think out-half is my best position and it's where I prefer to play.

"I would rather play anywhere than be on the bench. But as I said there's a lot of rugby to be played in the next 12 months.

"Last year was probably a bit disappointing personally if I'm being honest. It was a learning curve. For me, it was a rollercoaster of a year."

Former Leinster hooker Shane Byrne believes Madigan will respond to Sexton's return and says the player's versatility is a strength.

"He probably wasn't too impressed when Sexton came back, because last year at the end of the (2012/13) season, everybody just thought it was a natural progression that Madigan would just make that step up and then challenge for the green jersey because he'd been playing regular rugby," he said.

"Knowing Madigan, he just wants to play. He has the talent to play in a lot of positions and he would happy if it went to 10-12."

Irish Independent