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'I think Johnny Sexton is the in-form fly-half in the world' - Madigan

The Leinster man is playing second fiddle to Sexton at the moment with Ireland.

Sexton has been in superb form for Ireland.
Sexton has been in superb form for Ireland.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

IAN MADIGAN IS sitting behind the man he rates as the best out-half in the world for Ireland selection, but he’s very much intent on playing his own game.

Johnny Sexton continues to win plaudits for his form under Joe Schmidt, leading the Kiwi head coach’s game plans with confidence, a willingness to contribute physically and an utter accuracy in his kicking and passing.

“Yeah I think Johnny is the in-form fly-half in the world at the moment,” nods Madigan when asked if he’s competing against the world’s premier 10.

“There’s a few other out-halves playing very well at the moment; Camille Lopez was playing very well leading into the Six Nations and Dan Biggar’s really stepped up for Wales in the last two games.

“He’s very much the heartbeat of that Welsh side and a real leader for them. So for me they are the guys setting the benchmark. I wouldn’t mould my game on what they are doing, I would just focus on what I’m doing.

“And if I keep working hard on my game I’ll be able to push them hard.”

There have been suggestions from some quarters that Madigan’s place as back-up to Sexton should be under pressure following his showing off the bench against England last time out in the Six Nations, but the Leinster man isn’t paying any attention.

“I wouldn’t read too much into those comments, unless they came from someone like Joe Schmidt or a fellow player,” says Madigan. “I wouldn’t read too much into a comment like that.”

Ian Madigan and Sean Cronin Madigan at Ireland training in Carton House. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Instead, he’s focused on ensuring Ireland win in Wales on Saturday as they strive to make it four wins from four in this championship so far.

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Madigan’s job is once again to provide cover for Sexton and the centres from the bench, something he is more than content to do.

“When I’m picked to be on the bench I still prepare like I’m starting,” explains Madigan. “So if it does come to it that Johnny does go down before the match or early on, I’ll be ready to go.

“When I’m sitting on the bench I’ll be playing the game in my mind as though I’m on the field, so when there’s a lineout I would be thinking ‘if I was out there now what call would I make’.

“And as you see the play unfolding you think what you would do next. So when it does come to the stage where you come off the bench, I feel as if I’ve been in the game despite not having played in it.”

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