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O'Connor challenges Madigan

07th August 2013 13:42

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Asked to lead: Ian Madigan

Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor has challenged Ian Madigan to follow in the footsteps of Jonathan Sexton and inspire the province to more success on both fronts this season.

The 24-year-old enjoyed a meteoric rise last term as he scored 186 league points, including six tries, as well as finishing top of the kicking conversion charts which earned him a place in the RaboDirect PRO12 Team of the Season and helping his team to be the favourites with sites like bwin.com/en/rugby-union.

However, the newly appointed Australian tactician has hinted that Madigan isn't guaranteed the number ten jersey at the RDS with experienced New Zealander Jimmy Gopperth providing competition after his move from Newcastle.

"Ian showed towards the back end of last season that he had developed into a very, very good player at Heineken Cup level and on the end of season tour he was one of the best players according to the coaching group there," O'Connor said at his first press conference on Tuesday.

"He will do a really good job there. Jimmy Gopperth is a very good professional as well, who has been around the traps, who knows the game, who will step in there and do a job for us.

"It's different, post Jonny, it's different post Isa; at the end of the day those blokes in the group will get an opportunity to be the next big thing."

Leinster begin the defence of their RaboDirect PRO12 title with a trip to Wales on the opening weekend to face the Scarlets before welcoming the Ospreys to Dublin.

By Ryan Bailey in Dublin

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