Ian Madigan hopes reiterating his ability to boss a Test match backline in Saturday’s 28-22 victory over Scotland can boost his World Cup selection claims.
The Ireland playmaker’s ability to feature at 10, 12 and even 15 could prove the key to his World Cup selection chances – at the expense potentially of a midfield stalwart like Gordon D’Arcy.
D’Arcy’s chances of reaching a fifth career World Cup seem under threat after a mixed showing on his 82nd cap against Scotland on Saturday.
Madigan’s versatility could even hand head coach Joe Schmidt the option to retain Paddy Jackson and squeeze three fly-halves into his final 31-man squad, to be submitted on August 31.
“It was a very important part against Scotland, showing that I could run the game,” said Madigan.
“People love using the phrase ’game management’, and I’ve been working really hard on that with Joe (Schmidt).
“One of my main roles as an out-half is to bring other players into the game, and I did my best to do that, and in fairness to the guys around me they made it very easy for me.”
Ian Madigan speaking after Saturday’s game. Video by Shaun Cronin.
British and Irish Lions fly-half Johnny Sexton naturally enters the World Cup as Ireland’s playmaker-in-chief, but Madigan’s flexibility renders him central to Schmidt’s overall plans.
Kiwi boss Schmidt will thrash out the bulk of any remaining selection dilemmas this week, before Ireland host Wales for their third of four World Cup warm-up clashes on Saturday, August 29.
Ireland will complete their warm-up schedule against England at Twickenham on September 5, but by then their final World Cup squad will be set in stone.
Schmidt’s men open their Pool D campaign by taking on Canada at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Saturday, September 19.
The Wales Test will be the last chance for any fringe stars to win World Cup selection, and Madigan has admitted training has become increasingly frenetic across the summer.
“It’s really competitive, I think across the board you’ve got minimum two players and three in some cases competing for each position,” said Madigan.
“That’s great: it means there’s a great edge in training, every single run you get in training counts.
“There’s a lot of guys who have put their hands up over the last two weeks, there’s been massive preparation and then another game coming up at the end of the month.
“Guys are going to have other chances again, and everyone knows just how important those opportunities are.”