Who will be Leinster Rugby’s Heineken Cup Outhalf: Jimmy Gopperth or Ian Madigan

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Updated: October 2, 2013

So who will start at number ten against for Leinster in the Heineken Cup against the Ospreys in The Liberty Stadium on the 10th of October? 

Ian Madigan must of thought that the scene was set this year for him to secure his position as Leinster out half and settle down to battle with Sexton and Jackson for the Ireland number 10 spot.

With Sexton accepting the big money move to Racing Metro under the tutelage of former out half rival Ronan O’Gara, Madigan was all set to establish himself as first choice.  In the close season Leinster signed Jimmy Gopperth from Newcastle Falcons and now Madigan has a fight on his hand.

Gopperth has arrived in Leinster from Newcastle Falcons where he proved to be an able replacement for Jonny Wilkinson.  Looking at his career to date one strength that stands out is Gopperth’s proficiency from the kicking tee.  In his first season with the Falcons the Kiwi scored a Premiership season high of 219 points and also finished the next season as Premiership top scorer.  One element of Gopperth’s game which made need work is his try scoring.  In a career that has spanned nine years he has crossed over for less than 20 career tries.

Leinster fans have grown accustomed to a certain type of attacking rugby in the last few years and Gopperth signaled his ability to play the Leinster way with an incisive run (See Below) setting up Dave Kearney’s try against the Ospreys.

Ian Madigan has emerged as one of the most naturally talented outhalfs Ireland has produced since Ollie Campbell. A very quick player with an eye for a gap and a willingness to back himself (See Below) in improbable situations that only the most naturally gifted players seem to have. In his short career to date Madigan has 14 RaboDirect tries to his name but that is not to say he is not proficient with his boot.

Madigan has an excellent conversion rate of 86.96% in the RaboDirect Pro12. Consistency is the one doubt that remains with Madigan, being the reserve for Sexton meant that Madigan could play without the pressure of being the team’s main man. It’s remains to be seen how he could deal with the pressure of making the big calls week in week out.

It is perhaps understandable for new coach Matt O’Connor to want to start his tenure at Leinster with a steady experienced hand at outhalf and Gopperth offers just that.  Leinster fans have been waiting for Madigan to get his chance to play on a consistent basis and if the player doesn’t get it this year then he should look elsewhere for opportunities. Madigan is too skillful a player to have in reserve and O’Connor should show the nerve to give him his shot.

So who will start at number ten against for Leinster in the Heineken Cup against the Ospreys in The Liberty Stadium on the 10th of October? Please leave comments below.

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