Ian Madigan confident Joe Schmidt will turn to him against France

Ian Madigan confident Joe Schmidt will turn to him against France

Ian Madigan believes Joe Schmidt will back him to close out Sunday’s crucial World Cup battle with France on Sunday.

Fly-half Madigan kicked his heels on the bench as Ireland eked out a nervy 16-9 victory over Italy at London’s Olympic Stadium on Sunday.

The Leinster pivot remained an unused substitute for the first time in his Test career, boss Schmidt demanding Johnny Sexton steer Ireland past Italy and into the quarter-finals.

Ireland will avoid New Zealand in the last eight with victory over France, with Madigan confident in Schmidt’s total faith.

“It was the first game I think I’ve been on the bench when I haven’t come onto the field of play,” said Madigan, of last weekend’s victory over Italy.

“The way the game fell I think we were lucky to hold onto the lead we had and close out the game.

“I think the tempo of the game meant not as many subs were used and not as early.

“In a faster game you’re more likely to bring on your nine and 10, and the likes of Luke Fitzgerald and Sean Cronin earlier.

“I’ve no doubt that Joe has full faith in his bench and that it’s something he definitely thinks is a weapon for us.”

Madigan was on the field when Ireland closed out their Six Nations triumph of 2014 in a nerve-jangling 22-20 victory over France in Paris.

Premier playmaker Sexton had to be removed that night owing to a head injury sustained in one of a host of collisions with freight-train centre Mathieu Bastareaud.

Madigan held his nerve that night as Ireland handed Brian O’Driscoll the fairytale Test career ending, and is confident he could repeat the feat this weekend.

Ireland’s prize for victory over the French would most likely prove a quarter-final against Argentina.

Philippe Saint-Andre’s France have failed to beat Ireland in their last four meetings, but Schmidt’s squad are not taking this week’s foes lightly.

“We weren’t at our best at all against Italy but it was the kind of test we needed ahead of this French game,” said Madigan.

“There’s definitely a feel that everything’s cranked up this week.

“Even breakfast this morning, it was from eight until half nine, but the majority of the boys were in the breakfast room at eight o’clock.

“There was a queue for the laptops then after that and good intensity in the gym.

“Small groups getting together, the front row, the locks, the half-backs, getting together in units and discussing what they are going to bring this week.

“The focus is rising all the time.”

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