Ian Madigan Opens Up On His Decision To Leave Leinster & Ireland

Envious.

Ian Madigan has opened up in detail for the first time about his decision to leave Leinster and Ireland in favour of a move abroad.

The talented outhalf packed his bags and jetted off to France with Bordeaux back in 2016, before linking up with Pat Lam’s Bristol at the beginning of the season.

Madigan says he left because he was ‘envious’ of Johnny Sexton and wanted to be ‘that guy’.

“I was probably envious of what Johnny had with Ireland and Leinster,” Madigan told The Telegraph.

“I wanted to be that guy myself, to have that connection with the coaches, to be able to call the shots on the pitch, and that was a big reason why I left Leinster.

Madigan also feels leaving the Irish system allowed him to redefine his perception as a player. When you spend so such a long time in a system like Ireland’s one, Madigan feels you can get ‘branded with certain tags.’

“When you are breaking into the system in Ireland, I was breaking in as a 20, 21 year-old and you can certainly get branded with certain tags,” he added.

“It could be, ‘he is not a good tactical kicker’, or ‘he is not a good talker on the field’, or whatever it might be. 

“While you might iron those parts out of your game as your career moves on, you can still be tagged with them if you have been at a club for six, seven, eight years.

“I do think going to a different club allows you to get a fresh start, I feel you can prove them in a new environment. Maybe I am not as much of a maverick as I used to be, maybe I am more of a consistent fly-half as I have gotten older. It is something I have been allowed to do.”

Overall Madigan feels he is ‘all the better for it’ and that the move helped him ‘learn a lot’ about himself.

“Going away, having to be able to get set up in a new country, meeting 50 new players, a new coaching staff, a new support staff, a new supporter base and having to do it the following year, you do learn a lot about yourself,” he said

“They were challenges but I think I am all the better for it.”

Hopefully the time away has given him an appetite to return in the future – there’s absolutely no doubt he’s become a better player for it, and would be a nice fit and Munster, Ulster or Connacht.