‘Myself and Johnny would probably have been the fall guys’ – Madigan on tense Six Nations finale

IRELAND AND LEINSTER star Ian Madigan says he was expecting plenty of flak if his country ultimately failed to win the Six Nations last weekend.

Points difference ultimately proved crucial in a tense finish, as England narrowly failed to beat France by the margin required to triumph.

And Madigan, along with teammate Johnny Sexton, missed opportunities from the boot to extend Ireland’s advantage over Scotland and thus make it more difficult for England to achieve the necessary points tally.

“It was pretty tough,” he said. “Obviously the way sports people are, you like to take responsibility and myself and Johnny (Sexton) would probably have been the fall guys had they got over and converted the try.

Madigan has had little time to enjoy Ireland’s Six Nations success however, as he was involved in Leinster’s thrilling 34-34 draw with Glasgow on Friday.

“Every time they got into our 22 they came away with points but we went into the sheds at half-time,” he said, when asked about Leinster’s impressive comeback. “The way we reacted was very positive. It was as good a performance we put together, 25 minutes of that second half and we will be looking to piece that together for 80 minutes this weekend.”

The 26-year-old back is now looking forward to his side’s upcoming Champions Cup quarter-final with Bath, and is expecting a big challenge.

“The way the format of the competition is now, you have less time to gel and it’s a bit challenge for both sides. Bath have a lot of internationals in their team as well. Whichever team adapts best in gelling back together, will probably be the team that wins at the weekend.

One player who Leinster will need to be particularly wary of is England star Jonathan Joseph, and Madigan is well aware of the centre’s qualities.

“You do have a slight advantage coming up against players you have already played against recently. We’d have scouted the different feet these players step off and what favourite hand they pass off.

“Jon Joseph is one of those players that has got a huge amount of tricks in his book and we have got to be very switched on when you are defending him. We will put a lot of training this week into our defence. Hopefully we will be able to keep them at bay.”

Madigan played with Ben Te’o  in the centre against Glasgow, though he could renew his partnership with Luke Fitzgerald — a player he knows well — for their Champions Cup showdown.

“I’ve certainly had plenty of preparation with Luke. I was in school with him. I know him inside out as a player and he is someone I would be very comfortable playing with.

“Similarly with Ben, I mightn’t have played with him a huge amount, but I have watched a huge amount of footage with him. I know his strengths very well. A massive part of my game would be trying to get the most out of him. He’s an incredible athlete and somebody I would be excited about playing alongside.”

And while Leinster have encountered no shortage of criticism during the Matt O’Connor era, Madigan feels the side have progressed since last year.

“We have a home quarter-final this year, so that has to be a step forward. We are not as high up in the league as we were this stage last year, but we are only eight points from top, six points from second with four games to go.

Consequently, the star says the fact that they have just one win in seven games is not a huge concern.

“I agree, winning is a habit, but when we win a game and perform poorly, I would be more concerned than losing a game and performing well. We will assess our performance from Friday and look to move forward on that.

“There are guys coming back from the national set up, which will bring the winning form that Ireland had and the positivity into the squad. So it certainly isn’t a concern that we haven’t won as many games as we would have liked in the last seven.”

Additional reporting by Cillian O Conchuir

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