RBS 6 Nations: Andrew Trimble feels like he belongs
Brian O'Driscoll has delighted Irish fans and wooed rugby supporters worldwide since first taking to the Six Nations stage back in 2000.
Tomorrow he will be making his 131st appearance for Ireland and his last at Twickenham. After that, there will be just two more weekends of Six Nations action before the curtain closes on what has been an outstanding career for the player who has scored more tries than anyone in the competition's history.
Even now he continues to break new ground; tomorrow he equals George Gregan's world-record total of 139 Tests, the other caps in O'Driscoll's laden drawer having been won as a British and Irish Lion.
Ulster's Andrew Trimble will be lining up outside the Leinster legend at Twickenham where they will wear 14 and 13 respectively. Trimble has total respect for him, both as a player and as a man. And although the end of 35-year-old O'Driscoll's career is fast-approaching, Trimble insists that he remains a key player for Ireland.
"I think everyone knows how good Brian is. Even at this stage in his career he's so, so important for us," he said.
"Everybody took a gasp early on in the week when he took a little knock and we were going, 'What's going on? Let's get Brian on the pitch!'
"So that's how big an influence he is when he's on the pitch and that's how important he is for us."
Last time out against Wales, O'Driscoll was stopped dead in his tracks by a shuddering tackle from Scott Williams. The Aviva Stadium held its breath while the Irish icon received lengthy on-field treatment before climbing to his feet and re-taking his place in the home backline.
Williams was left requiring surgery to the shoulder he injured having hit O'Driscoll at maximum force.
"Certainly that was an illustration of how tough he is and how important he is as well in terms of getting back on his feet for us," Trimble said.
The Ulster man's fortunes certainly have been transformed of late, with Ireland's new head coach Joe Schmidt confirming his faith in him by including him for the third successive match of the series.
Trimble's inclusion in the Ireland camp for the Six Nations has given him a whole new lease of life and he has grasped his opportunity with both hands.
Yesterday at Carton House, Trimble was typically honest in the aftermath of Ireland having just named their team to face the English.
"Yeah, I certainly feel more comfortable in this environment," he beamed. "I'm just loving every minute of it, I really am – it's a fun place to be.
"And I feel like it's somewhere I'm enjoying being. In the past when you're up and down the road a little bit, it's a little bit turbulent not really knowing where you're supposed to be."
Significantly, he revealed that he now feels able to play his own game rather than trying to imitate somebody else. Nor has he felt the need to try to be a leader, even though he will be winning his 53rd cap tomorrow.
"I feel like I've settled in nicely and am being myself," he said. "That's a good thing. Being myself doesn't necessarily mean I'm going be a loud voice in the changing room or on the training pitch, I don't think that really suits me.
"I think different people lead in different ways and mine's probably a little bit more subtle than the likes of O'Driscoll, O'Connell and these guys."
The words 'last chance saloon' crop up every time he faces the media. Yesterday was no exception; inevitably he was asked if that was where he felt he was when he found himself in the side to face Scotland in Ireland's opening game of the 2014 series?
"I don't want to be too dramatic about the whole thing, but there was a little bit of that," he said.
"I'm not at the point now where it's last chance, but I am fed up going in and under-performing in a green shirt compared with how I perform in a white shirt.
"I just want to work hard, do my homework before the game, just know everything, prepare myself as best I can and get out and just not be as concerned as maybe I have been in the past – just get out and try and impose myself. I feel like I've done that," he said.
"As you build towards the game there is more and more exposure, more and more little things around the game, more and more chat around the team about England, more and more footage of England.
"Everything starts to build nicely and I think it's very difficult not to be emotionally right for this type of game."
Rest assured, Andrew Trimble is in a good place right now.