Speaking before a Leinster Rugby Fan Event at Grafton Street’s Lifestyle Sports store, Madigan (who is out of contract at the end of this season) stated that he is unlikely to move to Bristol - who he has been linked to in recent days - if they are still in the English Championship next year, and that a number of factors will come into play before he makes his final decision.
“I certainly wouldn’t be looking to play in the Championship. If you did decide to move to a club like Bristol, you’re taking a massive risk in them not getting promoted. That would definitely factor into my decision, if I was considering going there,” Madigan remarked.
“At the moment, [I’m] just going through the process of weighing up my options. Still waiting for Leinster and the IRFU to get back, but I think the way it is now, you have to look at all your options. I’m doing that at the moment, waiting for my agent to come back to me on what interest is out there.
“I’ll weigh up the pros and cons of staying here, the pros and cons of going elsewhere, the ambitions of the other clubs. The opportunities to play in the 10 position, or the 12 position. The style of play of Leinster going forward, and the style of play of other clubs that would be of interest. All the while, working closely with Joe Schmidt, and seeing what he thinks will be best for me moving forward in the Irish set-up.”
While Bristol seems to be an unlikely destination for the 26-year-old, the opportunity to work with Conor O’Shea at Aviva Premiership outfit Harlequins could be a much more enticing prospect. Madigan recognises the appeal of playing in the English top-tier, and also working under an Irish coach who favours an expansive style of rugby.
“There are pros and cons to every club. The appeal of a club like Harlequins is that they are a club that looks to win the Premiership every year.
“It’s very disappointing that they’re not in the Champions Cup this year. But, I’ve no doubt they will be straight back with their finish in the Premiership at the end of the season. You’ve got an Irish coach there, Conor O’Shea, who plays a very expansive style.
“You’ve got world-class forwards and backs. You’ve got the English captain. You’ve got Danny Care, a quality nine, the likes of Mike Brown, a tried and tested international.”
While Jonathan Sexton and Tommy Bowe have shown that international recognition isn’t entirely based on plying your trade in Ireland, it can certainly be of great benefit. Madigan says that it would be “naïve” to rule out a future move to a rival Irish province, as it offers players the best possible chance of making Joe Schmidt’s squad.
“I think you’d be naïve to rule it out. The IRFU probably want to keep as many players in Ireland as possible. If you are within Ireland, you are giving yourself the best possible chance to be picked for the national team.”
“The further you move away, the further you’re hampering your chances of being selected for your country. So, it’s something you have to consider - to keep that option open,” Madigan added.