But after the Ireland interim coach announced he had opted for the Leinster player ahead of Paddy Jackson, he called on Madigan to get the basics right and avoid trying to be a “magic man”.
Madigan will be under scrutiny from incoming coach Joe Schmidt and it’ll be a big night also for debutants Stuart Olding and Robbie Henshaw at centre and full-back respectively.
“I was over the moon when I heard from Les that I was going to start,” said Olding who added that his parents would be in attendance as well.
“At the start of the season I was just preparing for the U20 interpros and hoping to go to the Junior World Cup. It has been a big year for myself and I’m hoping to make the most of the opportunity.
“When people get injured in your position, your attention goes straight to that. It is never nice to see anyone get injured, especially your teammates. I’m just delighted to have got the opportunity and happy with how it’s been going.”
It’s been a whirlwind season for Olding who made his first ever start for Ulster against the Ospreys before Christmas, although that was at fly-half rather than at 12, where he will line out in Houston tomorrow night.
“I was quite nervous before that but when my second and third games came along I really just got into the groove of it… At the minute it’s just about experience and getting out there on the pitch and trying to take as much as I can from each game but hopefully in the next couple of years I’ll be able to settle on a position.”
Kiss pointed out that Olding and Connacht full-back Henshaw were being rewarded for impressive seasons with their first caps.
“The tour from the beginning was an opportunity,” he said.
“Robbie was involved in the Six Nations and was there or thereabouts when we had a huge injury rate. He has done exceptionally well in the full-back role. Stuart has come home like a train this season, he had a fantastic end to the season and is deserving of the opportunity.”
Meanwhile, Kiss will be hoping Madigan will be a calm presence in the middle of what he called the “least capped Ireland team for 50 years”.
“It was important that Ian did get a start in the Test jersey at 10. He’s had a fantastic year, I’m asking him to be a 10 who understands the role at Test level. It will be different for him, I’m not asking him to try and be a magic man, I want him to be a good, solid, consistent performer.”
IRELAND: R Henshaw (Connacht); F McFadden (Leinster), D Cave (Ulster), S Olding (Ulster), S Zebo (Munster); I Madigan (Leinster), I Boss (Leinster); D Kilcoyne (Munster), R Strauss (Leinster), M Ross (Leinster); M McCarthy (Leinster), D Toner (Leinster); I Henderson (Ulster), C Henry (Ulster), P O’Mahony (capt, Munster).
Replacements: M Sherry (Munster), J Hagan (London Irish), T Court (Ulster), D Tuohy (Ulster), T O’Donnell (Munster), P Marshall (Ulster), P Jackson (Ulster), F Jones (Munster).