Bristol’s Ian Madigan is reportedly close to sealing a move back to Ireland. The out-half quit Leinster in 2016 for a stint in the Top 14 at Bordeaux. 

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He has since been with the Bears in England but with his three-year deal set to expire this summer, the Belfast Telegraph have claimed he is on the verge of putting pen to paper with Dan McFarland’s Ulster.

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The northern province have a number of Madigan’s ex-Leinster colleagues already on their books, the likes of Jordi Murphy, Marty Moore and Jack McGrath.

Current first-choice No10 Billy Burns is also now part of Andy Farrell’s Ireland squad, so the need seemingly exists in Belfast to bring in an experienced player that can be relied on during the periods of next season when Burns is potentially away with a Test set-up that has additional fixtures due to the postponement of two recent Six Nations matches.  

“I’d be open to playing at any of the provinces, be that Leinster, Munster, Connacht or Ulster. There are great things going on with Andy Friend in Connacht and Dan McFarland in Ulster. Munster and Leinster are strong as ever, it would be a joy to play with any of the provinces,” said Madigan, who turns 31 next week, in a recent podcast with independent.ie.

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Madigan was one of Pat Lam’s marquee signings when he first arrived at Ashton Gate in 2017, but he has slipped down the pecking order due to the emergence of Callum Sheedy who has started all of Bristol’s Gallagher Premiership games this season.  

Despite this shake-up in status under Lam, Sheedy told RugbyPass that he remains very good friends with Madigan who helped him make the grade in the Premiership. “Pat has shown a lot of faith in me, but I take nothing for granted as I have got incredible competition for my place, especially with Ian who helps me out,” explained Sheedy. 

“Not just with on the pitch stuff, off the pitch stuff, how to recover, he is one of the best professionals I have worked with. The things he has done for my game have been incredible.

“It’s a tough one when you’re friends with someone who plays the same position because you’re both chasing the same shirt and only one of you can play on the weekend. Obviously, we have played 10 and 12 together, which is good. I really enjoyed that. 

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“Of course you sympathise but one of us has got to play and one of us hasn’t. That’s just the nature of the beast but whoever gets selected, if I’m playing he is the first one to come up to give me a hug and wish me the best of luck and say, ‘Listen if there is anything on the weekend I can do for you give me a shout’. 

“There is never any hard feelings. When we train we’re really competitive and want to get one up on each other but as soon as the whistle goes at the end of training, we’re really good mates again having a coffee and having a laugh. It’s a really good environment.”

WATCH: RugbyPass goes behind the scenes at Pat Lam’s Bristol 

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