Ian Madigan: Schmidt did try to persuade me to stay in Ireland

As he enters the final weeks of his contract with Leinster, Irish out-half Ian Madigan yesterday revealed how Joe Schmidt attempted to persuade him to remain playing in Ireland.
Ian Madigan: Schmidt did try to persuade me to stay in Ireland
Andy Farrell

Schmidt was eager for the 27-year-old to remain closer to home, but even though Madigan admitted that he wouldn’t be leaving if he was starting for Leinster on a regular basis, he believes that moving to Bordeaux (and France’s Top 14) is the best option for him going forward.

“The conversation I had with Joe, he made it clear to me that he wants me to stay in Ireland, and ultimately it’s where we want Irish players playing. The IRFU have access to you, they can manage you, you’re not overplayed, the fantastic medical facilities we have here,” Madigan remarked at the ‘Drop kick for your Club’ launch at the Aviva Stadium.

“If you want to have mini-camps or if there’s games outside the international window, they’ve got full control over that. That’s very important, and if I was starting for Leinster, there’s no way I’d move.

Joe Schmidt
Joe Schmidt

“I didn’t want to move, but you’ve got to play the hand you’re dealt, and ultimately for me I felt that moving was the right option to improve as a player.”

While moving clubs to secure regular game-time at out-half is a shrewd decision on Madigan’s part, it was hoped in some quarters that he might move to another of Ireland’s provinces.

The former Blackrock College stated that this didn’t come into consideration because of Bordeaux’s early offer, and he admits it would have been difficult moving to one of the Blues’ interprovincial rivals.

“The option that presented itself in Bordeaux was one that came up early on and one that I was committed to from an early stage. Munster are going through a small slump at the moment, but to play for a club like that, with the history they have, would be incredible.

“But would I be able to do it? I’ve grown up in Leinster, all my family support Leinster, all my friends support Leinster; it would be really tough. The parochial sense that you have in playing for Leinster or playing for Munster is a pretty special thing in Ireland.

“Similarly, when you see the quality brand of rugby that Connacht are playing at the moment, you look at that and I’d say to myself, ‘Jesus, it would be brilliant to be part of that side as well’. It’s definitely something that I would have thought of, but it never really came to fruition.”

It is uncertain at the moment how Madigan’s transfer to Bordeaux will affect his international prospects next season, but he was involved in the recent 24-hour training camp at Johnstown House.

This camp provided the Irish players with an opportunity to work with new defence coach Andy Farrell, and Madigan has already compared his initial impact to that of Leinster’s Kurt McQuilkin.

Andy Farrell
Andy Farrell

“Bringing in a new coach like Andy Farrell was always going to being new energy. We’d Kurt McQuilkin coming into us at the start of the year at Leinster — a defence coach. He made a huge difference there for us and you can see from our defensive stats they have improved greatly from last year.

“Straight away from Andy you feel the energy off him. I was in awe in how he could just make you feel you wanted to get out on the pitch and start defending for Ireland,” Madigan added.

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