When Ian Madigan departed Leinster at the start of the season for the Top 14 in France, it was regarded by many as an avenue for more games time, development and a potential return to the provincial set up, as Johnny Sexton had done before him.
Now however, after less than a season into a two year contract with the Bordeaux Begles, it was widely reported this week that the Irishman had requested to be released from his contract a year early.
The Top 14 side are apparently agreeable to the 28-year-old’s request, provided they can replace him first. Here, in that last caveat, lies a potentially career damaging issue.
Before Madigan goes anywhere, Bordeaux need to sign another out-half. Right now that could be tricky as there are precious few quality no.10’s on the market.
Arriving in Bordeaux full of ambition, Madigan has had to settle for a bit part within the first XV, with Simon Hickey having become the preferred out-half under coach Raphaël Ibañez.
Now with Madigan and Bordeaux both having shown their hand in relation to the player’s future, the race is on to both replace the Irishman and find a new home for 31 time capped Ireland international.
Rumours have been circulating that both Sale Sharks and Northampton Saints have expressed interest in the out-half but with English Premiership sides quickly filling their rosters ahead of next season, the anchor that holds Madigan to his current club could well see him miss the boat to the English top flight.
Were this to happen Madigan could well find himself warming the bench in the west of France for the next year and a half. For a man who continues to harbour international ambitions with Ireland, this is an option that is, quite frankly, a nail in the coffin for any such aspirations.
Back in the provinces there is no chance of a return to Dublin and Leinster. With Johnny Sexton and Joey Carberry already servicing the out-half requirements, there is no room for Madigan. Similarly for Munster and Ulster, the inn is full.
Connacht might be an option for the want-away star however. Fans of the western province are certainly keen. A quick search on social media and you will be awash with people begging him to go Galway.
Down to only one senior out-half due to the injury to Marnitz Boshoff, Pat Lam’s side are in need of an experienced and consistent out-half who can win games.
In Madigan they may well have that. However, having moved to France on a lucrative contract, the question is whether the IRFU would be willing to stump up for the former Leinster man or if he himself would be willing to entertain a potential pay cut.
If neither is the case then Madigan could well be set to play the dangerous waiting game and see if the likes of Sale or Northampton do indeed come calling.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena