THE SITUATION WAS far from perfect for Ian Madigan when he came off the bench last night, with Ireland trailing the Wallabies by 15-12.
Still, there had been a slight momentum shift just before the break and there was even the sense that the Leinster out-half might just be the man to spark life into the Irish challenge with his attacking skills.
As it turned out, Ireland put in a disappointing team effort to allow the Wallabies to pull away again and Madigan had little impact on the outcome despite a solid performance. The 24-year-old says Ireland have to accept they weren’t good enough.
“As a professional sportsperson, its a big blow to your ego. You can look for excuses if you want but at the end of the day, we’ve played enough rugby this year to be able to put a good performance together. There were small things, like we were a bit loose with our play.
“Certain things, and crucial parts of the game didn’t go our way. That’s what it came down to. I wouldn’t put it down to anything like game time. When you lose by 20 points it is extremely disappointing.
“We’re going to review the game and I’m sure we’ll find that there were very fine margins. We’re not a million miles off. Obviously the scoreline doesn’t look good but we’ll have to break down the performance and hopefully we’ll get some positives out of that.”
Madigan pointed to the Wallabies’ ability to take their chances as a key component of the outcome, particularly Quade Cooper’s try in the second half, when he danced in between Madigan and Luke Marshall.
“They did well with ball in hand and in the air. Israel Folau was excellent in the air. Quade was good and found some space in behind us. They just took their chances well. The two tries they had in the first-half were the two chances they had.
Madigan and O’Driscoll look dejected after the loss in Dublin. ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy.
“We had three or four, were pushing really hard on the line but came up short. They are the fine margins that are Test rugby.”
Jonny Sexton’s hamstring injury allowed Madigan onto the pitch, and it now appears likely that the Racing Metro man will be missing for the game against the All Blacks next weekend. Paddy Jackson had a strong game against Samoa and will be confident of his chances of starting against the world’s best team.
Madigan is fully aware that Schmidt has a difficult decision on his hands in picking a number 10.
“I’m sure it will be [a tight call]. I’m not sure of the extent of Jonny’s injury but Paddy played well last week. I’m not sure what Joe is going to do there but it certainly will be a tight call, whatever he decides.”
The All Blacks have injury worries over their own out-half after Dan Carter limped off during the victory over England yesterday. Even still, facing such a quality team would be a thrilling test for one of Ireland’s young out-halves.
Whatever the selection, Madigan is confident in Ireland’s ability to perform against New Zealand.
“There’s still really good belief in the squad. We trained really well over the last three weeks but, unfortunately, things didn’t really click for us. We had a game plan to go out and beat the Aussies but it didn’t come good because we didn’t execute that game plan.”
“With Joe there, we’ll have another game plan to go out and beat the All Blacks. Whatever 15 that are selected will have to go out and do their best to bounce back.”
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