The fly-half moved to Bordeaux-Begles last summer
Bordeaux fly-half Ian Madigan has said he would be open to a return to Ireland, once he leaves the Top 14 side.
Madigan, who spent his career at Leinster, before moving to France last summer, said he would be willing to play for another Irish province, but a return to The RDS would be his first choice.
"A return to Leinster would no doubt be top of my list," Madigan said on Wednesday, at an Electric Ireland event in Dublin. "Leaving all my friends here, having played for Leinster, it’s a pretty special place. I’d certainly be open to playing for any of the provinces. One thing moving away this year has done is opened my horizons on who I could play for. With the way professional sport is going, players are going to have to do that more."
The 27-year-old has followed the likes of Johnny Sexton and Marty Moore in leaving Leinster for a move abroad in recent years. He feels more of his former teammates may be pushed into a similar move.
"If you look at the back-row situation in Leinster, there’s going to be some guys there who are going to have to make some big decisions. Or, are they going to be happy sitting in a rotation system? Or, are they going to want to be first choice in another great club?
"I think the IRFU are doing a great job keeping players to keep players there, but you’re going to have some exceptions like in any system."
Earlier this week, it was reported that the former Blackrock College star was set to leave Bordeaux this summer, one season into a two-year deal. Madigan revealed that he held discussions with club president Laurent Marti, but he wished to stay with the French side.
"Two weeks ago I had a meeting with the President. At the start of the meeting I made it clear that I was talking to him because I want to make things work. I want to stay in Bordeaux, but there was certain things I was not happy with in the club.
"He decided that he would take some time to think about the second year of my contract… I do believe that things will still work out for me in Bordeaux. It wasn’t a case of going in there and saying, ‘I want to leave and I’m handing in my resignation’. It certainly wasn’t that.
"As things stand, I’m on a two-year contract. I still really want things to work there. It’s a really good team. I’m enjoying the lifestyle over there. Obviously, I’ve had some challenges over the last few months… I felt there had been a loss in confidence from the coaches in me. I felt that I had to act upon it."
Madigan has not played for Ireland since moving to France, but he hopes to return to Joe Schmidt’s side this summer, ahead of three tests in June. A Lions tour this summer, means the likes of Johnny Sexton and Paddy Jackson could be in New Zealand with Warren Gatland’s side. The former Leinster star is ready to take his chance once more, at international level.
"With the Lions tour this year, you would expect there’s going to be guys will get taken away with that. It’s a tour that would really excite me. Playing for Ireland is still the ultimate for me. When I go back to Bordeaux after this week’s break, hopefully I’ll be starting the next game against Stade Francais. I’ll be looking to build performance, upon performance and get a good run of games towards the end of the season.
"I want to show Joe [Schmidt] that I’m fit and well, and a viable option for him, for what’s going to be a pretty tough tour. America have built something really special over that past couple of years. Japan are similar. We saw what they are capable of in the last World Cup, when they beat South Africa."
Madigan will be an interested viewer on Saturday when Ireland meet France in the Six Nations. Teammates, past and present of the fly-half will be on the pitch. For the Dubliner, he hopes to play in the green jersey as soon as possible, whether it’s as a Bordeaux player, or one closer to home.
Ireland international and former Ireland U20s out-half, Ian Madigan announced Electric Ireland’s continued support of the Under 20’s 2017 Rugby Six Nations Home Games in Donnybrook. Electric Ireland believe in Smarter Living and for rugby fans these matches are the smarter choice to experience the Six Nations atmosphere while seeing at first hand the future stars of Irish rugby.