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Ian Madigan may get a run at scrum-half against Romania - Schmidt

The Leinster man starts at out-half, but may move inside for the closing stages at Wembley.

Murray Kinsella reports from London

JOE SCHMIDT SAYS Ian Madigan may get a run at scrum-half in the closing stages of Ireland’s World Cup clash with Romania on Sunday, as long as his side are looking comfortable.

Ian Madigan Madigan will start Sunday's game at out-half. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Madigan will start the game at out-half, but he is also the third-choice at scrum-half in the Ireland squad after Schmidt opted to bring only Conor Murray and Eoin Reddan to the tournament.

The Leinster man has been training his basic scrum-half skills under the eye of Schmidt and skills coach Richie Murphy, but has never featured in the position for Ireland. That may well change on Sunday at Wembley.

It is one thing that we might do,” said Schmidt at St. George’s Park this afternoon. “We want to get him a bit of game time at 10 as well, and we want Paddy (Jackson) to get a bit of game time as well. We’ll do one of two things, I guess.

“We’ll let Eoin (Reddan) continue and withdraw Ian and put Paddy out. We’ve got Conor (Murray) on the bench, who can come into nine anyway, so we feel like we’ve got really good cover at nine and 10 anyway, and if the game is going at a direction where we think Ian would benefit from 15 minutes at nine, then that’s possible.”

Any move inside for Madigan would be fascinating even if Ireland were enjoying a healthy lead at the time. There is further interest in the performance of Tommy Bowe on Ireland’s right wing. He has struggled for early-season form.

The Ulsterman looks to be playing catch up to the likes of Dave Kearney and Keith Earls coming into this game, but Schmidt expects a response from the 31-year-old.

Tommy Bowe Bowe will need to deliver a big performance. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“Tommy is really enthusiastic, he really just wants to get his hands on the ball, he wants to get involvements,” said Schmidt.

“We know the quality of player Tommy is, I don’t think Tommy has suddenly lost any confidence about what he can deliver either and what he has delivered for us. This time last year in the autumn internationals and through the Six Nations.

We have a pretty high expectation of what Tommy and Keith and Simon (Zebo) will offer and on the back of what the players did against Canada, there’s a really good contest in that area.”

Schmidt also welcomed the chance to bring Cian Healy back into his starting team for the first time since March, the loosehead prop having recovered fully from neck surgery towards the end of last season.

“Cian is always an asset,” said Schmidt. “Whether he’s in the starting team or off the bench. I think he came off the bench mostly through the Six Nations, but the one start he did get against Scotland I think he got two turnovers in the first 20 minutes on the ground.

“He’s a very strong carrier for us, he gets advantage line and he’s a very, very strong scrummager. Sometimes it’s a case of restraining Cian at the scrum because you want to keep it as square as you can, so that it’s about containing some of the force he applies.”

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Murray Kinsella

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