'Ireland were going for the Grand Slam and I was in Rotherham' - Ian Madigan on adjusting to life away from Irish rugby
Former Leinster fly-half Ian Madigan says it has been a 'long journey' back to the highest level with Bristol, and admitted there were some difficult times when he was playing in the second-tier of English rugby.
Madigan helped Bristol secure promotion as they dominated the Championship last season, finishing 20 points ahead of second-placed Ealing Trailfinders.
The 29-year-old left Leinster in 2016 to join Bordeaux Begles in the Top 14, and after one season with the French club made the move to Bristol.
Madigan admitted it was often difficult to adjust to life in England's second division, and one away trip in particular stood out, taking place on the same day as Ireland's Grand Slam decider with England in March.
"It has been a long journey for me to get to this point," Madigan told The Left Wing, Independent.ie's rugby podcast in association with Laya Healthcare.
"If you look back over the last three years I had a relatively frustrating year after the World Cup because Johnny was back in Leinster, I was playing second fiddle for a large part of that season, went to France had the frustrations over there for a large part of that season as well.
"And then last year I had to take the step back to go forward in the Championship, so was playing in some pretty grim venues and not at a high level.
"I remember Ireland were going for the Grand Slam and we were actually playing against Rotherham away. Now, Rotherham's ground is on the side of a hill, and we were playing them in two inches of snow, so that was my Twickenham that day.
"No not ideal, but you can either complain about it or find something that's going to motivate you there on that day and get on with it. Luckily I was able to find something small to get me through that one."
Madigan will play now play in the Premiership with Bristol next season, where he is coached by former Connacht boss Pat Lam. Connacht legend John Muldoon has also joined the side as defence coach.