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Dublin: 11 °C Tuesday 18 June, 2019

Was Sunday's win against France a turning point in Ian Madigan's career?

We asked Leinster’s Isa Nacewa.

Ian Madigan with Isa Nacewa after Leinster defeated Stade Francais to win the Amlin Challenge Cup in 2013.
Ian Madigan with Isa Nacewa after Leinster defeated Stade Francais to win the Amlin Challenge Cup in 2013.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

IT WAS UNDOUBTEDLY his greatest day yet in a green jersey.

When Johnny Sexton limped off in the 25th minute at the Millennium Stadium on Sunday, Ian Madigan entered the fray.

The loss of Sexton, Ireland’s talismanic out-half, left the Irish fans in Cardiff on tenterhooks as Joe Schmidt’s team battled with France to secure top spot in Pool D at the Rugby World Cup.

In hindsight, however, there was no need for concern. Madigan had it all under control, helping to steer Ireland to a 24-9 win with his most assured international display to date.

But Madigan’s performance came as no surprise to Isa Nacewa, one of his Leinster team-mates. Does Nacewa believe that last Sunday will go down as a turning point in Madigan’s career?

“I think Mads has just been waiting for an opportunity like Sunday. He’s been ready for it for a long time and he’s proven over the last few seasons what a world class player he is,” said Nacewa, who has returned to Leinster this season after two years at home in New Zealand.

“The poor sake of Johnny falling over, it just creates an opportunity for someone else. Mads has been itching at the bit to really get an opportunity like this and he proved what type of player he is.

“He prepares like he’s going to play every single week and when it mattered, he delivered. It’s not a turning point, it’s just a positive boost to his career so far.”

inpho_00562765 Isa Nacewa and Ian Madigan in action for Leinster against Cardiff Blues during the 2011/12 season. Source: ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

Doubts remain over Johnny Sexton’s fitness for Sunday’s quarter-final against Argentina but if he’s not available, Nacewa is confident that it’ll be a smooth transition into a starting berth for Madigan.

The versatile 26-year-old has always had to fight for his place — whether at Leinster with Jimmy Gopperth or with Sexton for Ireland — so according to Nacewa, Madigan has grown accustomed to being ready to capitalise when a chance presents itself.

Source: Seb Daly/SPORTSFILE

Nacewa: “There’s such genuine competition that Mads has been dealing with over the last three or four seasons — even in the two with Jimmy Gopperth gone — so he’s been preparing for a moment like this for a long time.

“He trains hard and does all the stuff off the rugby field too to be given a genuine opportunity, and then perform at this level. Fingers crossed, Johnny makes it through. But if not I think Mads will be seamless and positive to the environment.

“When you’ve got a team in the shape that they are, they’ll probably help make Mads’ job easier if he does get an opportunity to start.”

Isa Nacewa was speaking to The42 at the ‘Boast’ Rugby World Cup preview event. Boast, the world’s leading audio social media app, hosted the first of its kind rugby preview event where fans tuned in and engaged directly with a panel of rugby experts. The app is available for free download on iOS or Android and allows users to connect with like-minded individuals, as well as radio stations, from around the world on the hottest topics ranging from sport to politics and ‘Boast’ their opinions using their real voice.

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Paul Dollery

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