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'You want this guy to come through again for Ireland, he's a class act'

Eddie O’Sullivan believes a move to England would work well for Ian Madigan.

FORMER IRELAND HEAD coach Eddie O’Sullivan believes Ian Madigan’s struggles with Bordeaux this season will underline to Irish players just how tough a move to the French Top 14 can be.

Ireland out-half Johnny Sexton had a testing time in his two years with Racing 92 from 2013 and 2015, while Madigan is now looking to be released from the final year of his contract with Bordeaux.

Ian Madigan with Paddy Jackson Madigan hasn't had a happy time at Bordeaux so far. Source: Presseye/Nicolas Tucat/INPHO

There have been several notable Irish success in the Top 14 such as James Coughlan, Paddy Butler and Chris Farrell, but O’Sullivan feels that Madigan’s negative experience will be noted by any other Ireland internationals pondering a move to France in the future.

O’Sullivan believes that the presence of former France international hooker Raphaël Ibañez as Bordeaux boss made the transition all the more difficult for Madigan, who has fallen behind Kiwi playmaker Simon Hickey in the out-half pecking order.

“I’m sad for him really, because I think he’s a fantastic player,” O’Sullivan told The42 Rugby Show. “I think he’s world-class. and he’s had a tough road. He came through Leinster and was up against Johnny Sexton, I think he had to move out of Leinster.

“The problem with a move to France is that it’s not just as simple as getting on a plane and going to France and kicking on. It’s a different environment. Had he gone to a club with a non-French coach, it might be a bit more structured like in England, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia.

“He went to a club with French coaches, a very French traditional approach. It’s a big adjustment and their approach to the game is very different, particularly when you’re a 10.

“If you go in as a winger or as a back row, you can adjust, but a 10 has to take an awful lot of responsibility on and it’s not the same environment that you’re used to in Leinster, with a more structured game plan, even the way they train, the way they prepare, the way they do video analysis.”

27-year-old Madigan has started 11 games for Bordeaux this season, with six further appearances off the bench but his performances have attracted criticism from some quarters of the French media.

Ireland’s Ian Madigan Madigan last played for Ireland in June 2016. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

With Madigan now set to look for an early release from his contract at UBB, as first reported by Midi Olympique, a number of English clubs are waiting in the wings to make a move.

31-times capped Madigan has not featured for Ireland since completing his move to Bordeaux, although he did feature in South Africa last June after signing for the French club.

However, O’Sullivan would like to see Madigan back in the picture for Joe Schmidt’s squad and believes a move to England could be ideal.

“It’s all very different [in Bordeaux]. It’s just not as simple as changing clubs, particularly if you’re a 10,” said O’Sullivan.

“I think he’s found that adjustment, probably, too difficult and is not enjoying his rugby. It’s understandable but it’s a pity. You want this guy to come through again for Ireland, he’s a class act.

“It’s a pity now that this hasn’t worked out for him, but it’s not the end of the world. I think if he gets back, even to England, into a different environment, he could thrive there for sure.”

Subscribe to The42 Rugby Show podcast here:

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Murray Kinsella

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