Ian Madigan at Ulster Rugby squad training at Kingspan Stadium, Belfast, on July 23. INPHO/ULSTER RUGBY/ROBYN MCMURRAY
Professional rugby in Ireland will restart next weekend with two PRO14 games at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Old rivals Leinster and Munster clash on Saturday, while Connacht play Ulster at the Ballsbridge venue on Sunday. Munster coach Johann Van Graan is expected to give a debut to his South African signings Damian De Allende and R G Synman. Ian Madigan, who recently joined Ulster from Bristol Bears, will now be hoping to impress Irish coach Andy Farrell, having won 30 Irish caps under previous coaches. Madigan’s last game for Ireland was against South Africa in 2016.
The 31-year-old Dublin-born out-half will be hoping that by playing in Ireland he will work his way into to Irish squad. Madigan said: ‘‘Coming back and being able to play for one of the Irish provinces and having the chance to play for Ireland as one of my main goals has really focused my training and given me something to really aim at. I am under no illusions that I have to prove myself with Ulster. There are some good quality out halves at Ulster with Billy Burns, Bill Johnston and Mike Lowry all able to play at number 10 or 15. If you are playing well for any of the Irish provinces you are in the mix for national selection. There is a lot of rugby to be played before that can happen but it is something that really excites me. It is still my number one goal to play for Ireland.”