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Madigan v Jackson: Battle of the outhalves at the RDS

A starting spot as Ireland outhalf on the summer tour could well be at stake.

Paddy Jackson and Ian Madigan after the Italy game.
Paddy Jackson and Ian Madigan after the Italy game.
Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

THE TORN TENDON in Jonathan Sexton’s foot ended the possibilities of a drawn out bon voyage before he sets off for France.

Leinster’s signing of the functional Jimmy Gopperth signalled that Ian Madigan would be entrusted with the 10 jersey from the start of next season and tasked with holding on to it.

Following two months of fullback cover and an Ireland debut at inside centre, the 24-year-old showed Leinster fans the positive impact he can make in the outhalf role.

Madigan kicked 17 points and sniped over for a fine try to see off Glasgow at the RDS last week. This evening, with Paddy Jackson and Ulster in town, he will strive to do it all again.

“Ian has been going very well,” Leinster skills coach Richie Murphy told 98fm. “His performance at the weekend was excellent.

“There are still things that he has to work on but he is showing real signs of somebody who is really stepping up to the plate.

“With Jonny moving on this year he looks like he is really striving to nail down that Number 10 slot. From our point of view, we’re delighted with him.”

Jacko vs. Madge

Madigan leads the Pro12 points race with 149 points, including six tries, 22 conversions and 25 penalties. He scored a Heineken Cup try against Scarlets and dotted down eight times for Leinster last season, a team best.

Murphy describes the versatile back as ‘a confident young fella’ who is very professional in everything he does.

“His attention to detail is great,” he added, “the way he prepares himself for a match like this week’s is incredible. He just needs to play his game and that’s one of the things we have encouraged him to do.”

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In yer face ROG: There’s nothing like a bit of out-half rivarlry. (©INPHO/James Crombie)

Jackson, who often shares the kicking tee with Ruan Pienaar, has slotted over 89 points in 12 league games. He scored three tries last season but has yet to touch down this time around.

While the 21-year-old linked up well with Luke Marshall on Ireland duty, Madigan outshone his outhalf rival in open play as ran attacking angles and passed crisply.

With Sexton expected to travel to Australia with the Lions this summer, once he overcomes his injury, and Ronan O’Gara dropped, Madigan and Jackson will fight it out for the 10 jersey for tour games against the US Eagles and Canada.

The winner of tomorrow night’s showdown may well have played his way into starting contention. Murphy commented:

People will say that but I think both players would be wrong to treat it like that. The big thing for any 10 is if he goes off on his own tangent, his team is going to suffer.

“From our point of view we’d be looking for our 10 to run the game exactly as we say and play within the systems we’ve set up to play against Ulster.

“If he does that, he’ll put a strong foot forward for recognitions later in the year.

*TheScore.ie will be liveblogging all the action at the RDS from 6pm

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Patrick McCarry

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