Joe Schmidt has made a mistake by not including Ian Madigan in his Six Nations squad, according to Tony Ward.
Earlier today, the Ireland head coach named a 40-man panel for the opening two fixtures of the competition, against Scotland and Italy, but included only two options at out-half: Johnny Sexton, who was withdrawn with a calf injury last Friday against Castres, and Ulster number 10 Paddy Jackson.
Former Ireland fly-half Ward reckons that Madigan, who switched from Leinster to Bordeaux during the summer, should have been included, and that the IRFU policy of favouring home-based players is skewed.
“Joe forewarned before Ian went off to France that would be the case and that’s been followed through,” Ward told RTÉ Sport.
“I disagree with it; I disagree with the principle of it.
“If you look around the world now, even mighty powers such as Australia and South Africa are including players from overseas in their home squads whereas heretofore they had ruled them out.
“Particularly when we’re in a position at out-half at the moment, depending very much on Johnny Sexton.
“We’re fortunate that Paddy Jackson is really in form as well but we do need a third cover at out-half and I would have Madigan.
“I disagree with it; I disagree with the principle of it"
“It just seemed to me that there was a principle that applied before whereby Sexton himself, when he was playing in France [with Racing 92 from 2013-2015]... allowances were made for him to travel home and play and to try and fit around his schedule.
“To go back further, Tommy Bowe when he was playing with the Ospreys.
“So it’s not as if that wasn’t the case in the past, and certainly if you’re asking me would I have Ian Madigan involved, the answer is yes.
“We’re one injury to Sexton away from having an issue at out-half for the trip to Rome if anything should happen in Edinburgh in the opening game so it is a concern.”
Madigan, who helped Bordeaux-Begles beat Ulster on Saturday, told RTÉ Sport that he feels his form is not good enough at the moment to warrant a place.
“I haven’t had the consistent run of form that I think should warrant an international call-up,” he said.
“You’ve got to show extended form for that.”