Ian Madigan training at Carton House today. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Ian Madigan has refused to mimic Johnny Sexton even though he admitted his Ireland rival is the “in-form fly-half in the world”.
Madigan vowed to stick to his natural approach if called to replace Sexton from the bench in Saturday’s pivotal RBS 6 Nations clash against Wales in Cardiff.
An Irish-record 11th consecutive Test victory would leave them on the brink of both retaining the Six Nations title and completing the Grand Slam.
Leinster star Madigan conceded that Ireland lynchpin Sexton is currently the world’s best playmaker – but said it would be folly to try to copy the British and Irish Lion’s approach.
“I think Johnny definitely is the in-form fly-half in the world at the moment,” said Madigan.
“There’s a few other out-halves playing very well at the moment, Camille Lopez was playing very well leading into the Six Nations and Dan Biggar’s really stepped up for Wales in the last two games.
“He’s very much the heartbeat of that Welsh side and a real leader for them.
“So for me they are the guys setting the benchmark.
“I wouldn’t mould my game on what they are doing, I would just focus on what I’m doing.
“And if I keep working hard on my game I’ll be able to push them hard.”
Madigan struggled when replacing Sexton in the closing stages of Ireland’s 19-9 victory over England in Dublin, blasting two loose line kicks to hand Stuart Lancaster’s men late momentum.
Sexton hobbled out of that March 1 clash with hamstring trouble but has completed his return to fitness to take his place at 10 for the trip to the Millennium Stadium.
Ireland skills coach Richie Murphy also works first-hand with Madigan at Leinster, but earlier this week admitted the 25-year-old was below par in his cameo against England.
Madigan himself pledged he will not be fazed if pressed into service after one minute or 79 in Cardiff this weekend – and rejected suggestions Ireland rely too heavily on near-peerless fly-half Sexton.
“When I’m picked to be on the bench I still prepare like I’m starting,” said Madigan.
“So if it does come to it that Johnny does go down before the match or early on, I’ll be ready to go.
“When I’m sitting on the bench I’ll be playing the game in my mind as though I’m on the field, so when there’s a lineout I would be thinking, ’If I was out there now what call would I be playing?’.
“And as you see the play unfolding you think what you would do next.
“So when it does come to the stage where you come off the bench, I feel as if I’ve been in the game despite not having played in it.
“I wouldn’t read too much into those comments about being too reliant on him (Sexton) or whatever it was, unless they came from someone like Joe Schmidt, or a fellow player.”