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Madigan's place-kicking among best I've seen (from inside 45 metres) -- Richie Murphy

Leinster and Ireland’s kicking coach has been more than impressed by the utility back’s 90% success rate this season.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

LEINSTER AND IRELAND kicking coach Richie Murphy says Ian Madigan is in no danger of losing the goal-kicking responsibility for Leinster as long as he continues his current success rates.

Though the Blackrock man has been unable to take a firm hold on Leinster’s number 10 jersey this season, injury to centre Noel Reid in the opening minute of the season has allowed Madigan to play a role at number 12.

And since taking over the kicking tee from Jimmy Gopperth in that game, he has been almost faultless from placed balls – with Murphy picking one specific area out for improvement.

“He’s incredible at the moment,” says the coach, reeling off stats from memory: “17 from 19 in the league – one out of one in pre-season so he’s 18 out of 20 – that’s 90%.

“The kicks he’s missed have been outside of 45 metres and they’ve both missed from the exact same spot, so he just needs to sort that out and then he’ll be grand,” he joked.

Murphy was quick to pour cold water on the suggestion that the kicking duty was some sort of consolation prize for Madigan as he plays outside of his favoured position.

“Ian is playing 12 because Ben [Te'o] hasn’t come in yet, Brian [O'Driscoll] is gone, Noel Reid is out injured… So he’s playing at 12 because he’s performed really well there in the past and it’s almost a necessity that he’s in that slot. The goal-kicking is a separate thing completely.”

Ian Madigan and skills and kicking coach Richie Murphy Source: James Crombie/INPHO

And from that standpoint, Murphy says the province were keen to have both of their front-line kickers in a rhythm; Gopperth was handed the tee in pre-season and Madigan has taken over since.

“We’re obviously very happy with Jimmy. He’s a good goal-kicker in his own right and he’s done a massive job for us towards the end of last season. Ian was coming off the bench in a lot of situations, so it was never a case of which one would kick.

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“This year, both have been starting the same games and we’ve had a look and felt we needed to give Mads a little bit of involvement in that area. Because although he’s playing 12 he could easily end up back at 10 very easily and we didn’t want to get into five or six games in the season and not have a second guy place-kicking.

“We made a decision to put him in there and, in fairness, how could you take it off him?

“Last year, Jimmy had about 20 more kicks but they finished more or less on the exact same percentages. So which ever one we go in to a big game with, we’d be happy with their kicking. It started off a case of having our two main kickers having a certain amount of time.”

Murphy adds: “Ian’s percentages in training are phenomenal at the moment. They’re right up there with anyone I’ve ever seen. So, as long as he’s inside 45 metres he’s really accurate.”

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