Ian Madigan open to playing for ‘any of the provinces’

Ian Madigan insists he is not actively seeking to leave Bordeaux, although the out-half admits he is keen on a move back to Ireland.

Reports in France this week suggested the Dubliner, who left Leinster for the Top 14 last summer, had sought an early release from his two-year contract.

Midi Olympique reported the 27-year-old met with Bordeaux president Laurent Marti in the hope he could pave the way for a move, with a number of English clubs said to be interested.

While Madigan yesterday confirmed he had met with Marti two weeks ago, the out-half claimed he wants to see out his contract with Bordeaux if he can iron out certain issues.

“I made clear at the start of the meeting, when I was talking to him, I want to make things work, I want to stay in Bordeaux but there was certain things I wasn’t happy with in the club,” said Madigan, speaking at a promotion of Electric Ireland’s sponsorship of Ireland’s U20s Six Nations Championship home games.

“Off the back of that, he was clear with me he knew there were issues I was dealing with,” continued the Dubliner. “He’d obviously seen I wasn’t being selected for the Top 14 games and he decided he’d take some time to think about the second year of my contract.

“I do believe things will work out for me in Bordeaux. It wasn’t a case of me going in there and saying I was going to leave or handing in my resignation. It certainly wasn’t that,” added the 27-year-old, who has struggled with his form recently following a groin problem.

Despite the reports linking him to a move to the Aviva Premiership, Madigan insisted he is enjoying life in the Top 14 and will stay put to fight for a starting place after seeing his game-time reduced due to the selection of New Zealander Simon Hickey.

“As things stand, I’m on a two-year contract and I still want things to work there,” he said. “It’s a really good team, I’m enjoying the lifestyle over there. Obviously, I’ve had some challenges over the last few months I want to work through and get through to the other end.

“But I ultimately felt there has been a loss of confidence from the coach in me personally and I felt I had to act upon it,” added Madigan, who also revealed Bordeaux’s decision not to extend Australian international Adam Ashley Cooper’s contract has led him to question the ambition of the club.

With his Ireland career having stalled since making his move to France, Madigan acknowledged a return home would be the easiest way to get back into Joe Schmidt’s squad.

“Yeah, a move back to Ireland would certainly excite me,” he said. “Playing for Ireland is still the ultimate for me.

“The reason I made the move was to improve as a rugby player. The reason why I had that conversation with our [Bordeaux] president is because I didn’t feel I had the confidence of the coaches or many of the players, so I was in there to get to the bottom of it and try improve that situation.

“If it did happen that they decided to release me and an opportunity to come back to Ireland came up, it definitely would be something that would excite me.

“But these conversations haven’t been had because I am under contract at the moment, so nothing has been done on that front. It has just been strictly speculation over the last few days.”

The 27-year-old has been in regular contact with his former Leinster coach, who has offered insight on French rugby following his time spent as assistant coach at Clermont.

“He’s given me great advice and as much as he would’ve rathered I stayed in Ireland, he would’ve still wanted things to go well for me on a personal level,” said Madigan of Schmidt.

“He’s kept in contact with me and he’s still giving me advice on my game and what he thinks I can improve on, keeping me in the loop on what they’re looking for with the national out-halves,” added the former Leinster man, who suggested he would be open to the idea of moving to any corner of Ireland and not just his native province.

“Returning to Leinster would no doubt be top of my list… but I would certainly be open to playing for any of the provinces,” said Madigan.

“One thing that moving away this year has done, [it] has definitely opened up my horizons on who I can play for. Without doubt, the way professional sport is going; players are going to have to do that more. There’s so much quality there and we’re going to see that more and more the way the game is going.”

When quizzed on his inside information ahead of France’s Six Nations visit to Dublin this weekend, Madigan tipped clubmate Baptiste Serin as one to watch.

“Baptiste is a really special player,” said Madigan on the Bordeaux scrum-half. “He can pull a rabbit out of his hat — he is one of those guys in training that regularly has guys standing still and saying, ‘that was incredible.’

“He is someone that Ireland definitely have to keep a close eye on. He is a scrum-half that weighs up his options, he is not just thinking [about] service, he is a threat himself,” he added.


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