Rugby World Cup: Coach Joe Schmidt trusts in my ability, insists Ian Madigan
After kicking his heels on the bench for the entirety of Ireland's World Cup win over Italy, Ian Madigan is sure that he still has the complete trust of coach Joe Schmidt.
In a one-score game against the Azzurri, Jonny Sexton was kept in the out-half position throughout but his fellow Leinster No.10 is confident he could get the nod to see out Sunday's crunch meeting with France should the contest be played at a quicker pace.
"It was the first game I think I haven't come onto the field of play when I've been on the bench," the 26-year-old said of last weekend's victory over Jacques Brunel's side.
"The way the game fell I think we were lucky to hold onto the lead we had and close out the game.
"I think the tempo of the game meant not as many subs were used and not as early.
"In a faster game you're more likely to bring on your nine and 10, and the likes of Luke Fitzgerald and Sean Cronin earlier.
"I've no doubt that Joe has full faith in his bench and that it's something he definitely thinks is a weapon for us."
The laboured nature of the 16-9 victory at the Olympic Stadium, coming after two free-scoring wins over Canada and Romania, has tempered some of the wildly increasing expectation surrounding Sunday's Millennium Stadium clash.
With the winner of the contest likely to face Argentina rather than New Zealand in the quarter-finals, the Blackrock man has sensed an increase in intensity during Ireland's preparation at Celtic Manor in Newport.
"We weren't at our best at all against Italy but it was the kind of test we needed ahead of this French game," said Madigan. "There's a feel that everything is cranked up this week.
"Even breakfast (yesterday), it was from eight until half nine, but the majority of the boys were in the breakfast room at eight o'clock. There was a queue for the laptops then after that and good intensity in the gym.
"Small groups are getting together - the front row, the locks, the half-backs - and discussing what they are going to bring this week. The focus is rising."
Italy certainly seemed to have carried out their analysis on Ireland's backline play but Madigan hints that, as expected, much has been held back for the pool-defining clash in Cardiff.
"Having Joe as our coach, when he decides on the game plan and the patterns of play that we're going to use for any given week, there's massive excitement," he said.
"We've full belief in the patterns of play that he decides on, and that creates massive excitement in preparing during the week in training and that only builds.
"It is a part of rugby now because the analysis that other teams are doing on you is so extensive that if you show certain patterns of play or certain back plays, they'll know how to defend if you use them in future."