Ulster Rugby will thrive under intense pressure: Andrew Trimble
Published 05/04/2014 | 02:30
Andrew Trimble – currently in the form of his life and justifiably upbeat following his major role in Ireland's 2014 Six Nations triumph – cannot wait for tonight's Heineken Cup quarter-final clash with Saracens to start.
So often when he was in the international wilderness, this was the competition that gave him a chance to shine on the stage he has graced more times than any other Ulster player.
"For me in the past few years, there haven't been that many opportunities with Ireland so these were always enormous nights for me – big opportunities," he said.
This one is even bigger than normal, however. The scene is set for something better than he has ever experienced at Ulster's home ground and he makes no attempt to play that down.
"Friday nights, Saturday afternoons or nights at Ravenhill are pretty special," he said. "Especially when it's Heineken Cup and especially when it's an English side and it's knock-out stages.
"For four years now we've been building to the point where we've got this home quarter-final. So new stand up, full house – I think it's going to be a special, special night for Ulster Rugby and we want to make sure we produce a performance that reflects that."
He relishes the fact that this is a winner-takes-all affair, believing that to be exactly the sort of situation in which Ulster will thrive.
"I think it's a good thing," was his reply when asked about the pressure. "We had to go to Welford Road, we had to get a win and that brought the best out of us.
"I think we're in a position where big events, these big occasions bring the best out of us."
Trimble is confident that the lesson of last weekend's sub-standard showing at the Arms Park, where Ulster went down 28-23, has been learned.
"It was our mindset, 100 per cent," he said.
Asked if that was because Ulster players' minds had raced ahead to April 5 at Ravenhill rather than focusing on the job in hand on March 29 in Cardiff, Trimble replied: "Maybe, maybe.
"And maybe that's a reflection of just how much we want to win this weekend. We just didn't concentrate at all. We didn't get our heads round it, we weren't physical enough, we were high going into contact, both defensively and with ball in hands.
"We have to fix every one of those problems. I've no doubt; we've done it before and we can do it again. But we have to nail every one because we're fully aware of just how good Saracens are and how much of a threat they pose.
"Obviously there was disappointment last week. It didn't kick for us. I think it was a wake-up call to make sure that we know exactly what we're doing.
"Hopefully it will be a good thing for us – make sure that we turn up and produce a massive performance, get the intensity through the roof. I think Ravenhill is a really unpleasant place to go."
Twelve months ago, the week before facing Saracens at Twickenham, Ulster beat Leinster in an PRO12 inter-pro showing at the RDS. This time, in what is a case of role reversal, they go into battle on the back of a flop.
Ever the optimist, Trimble is hoping the follow-through proves to be a case of role reversal, too.
"It could potentially be the other way round – that's a good way of looking at it," he said.
"We're going to try and take the positives. In the situation, hopefully it's the right thing for us – a wake-up call so we know exactly what we're at this weekend."