Six Nations: Ulster's Andrew Trimble happy to be back in the thick of it for Ireland
Ulster's Andrew Trimble was thrilled to be back in green yesterday and finally put his World Cup heartache behind him.
While rarely getting a chance to work with ball in hand during Ireland's 16-16 draw with Wales - although he did return a couple of kicks with interest - the wing was in the thick of the action throughout defensively with a big tackle on the imposing figure of Alun Wyn Jones a particularly important first-half intervention.
After failing to convince Joe Schmidt of his fitness in time to win a place in the 31-man World Cup panel last summer, a return to the Test arena was relished by the 31-year-old.
"I was pleased," he admitted yesterday.
"I was just very excited to be back in a green jersey.
"I just wanted to make my mark as much as possible.
"There was a lot of hard work out there but a draw was probably a fair result.
"I didn't get too many carries but I was busy defensively and we had to cover a lot of metres.
"The physicality was through the roof; it was just very, very demanding.
"There was a lot of work for the back three."
With Johnny Sexton's late penalty salvaging the draw from a game Ireland had once led 13-0, Trimble said his teammates had to reach within themselves to avoid an opening round defeat.
"We're reasonably proud of ourselves," he said.
"We showed a bit of character; we were under a lot pressure in the second-half and managed to get back down there and get a penalty to get us back in the game and really and stay in the championship as well.
"There's a lot of good work out there and a few things for us to work on during the week."
After a quick start, Ireland failed to score for almost 45 minutes but Ulster's record try-scorer thought the Welsh defence more than played their part.
"We had some really good opportunities to turn the screw on them," he said.
"They showed a lot of character themselves. It was tough."
With France in Paris to come on Saturday, Ireland have little time to recover from the physical encounter with Trimble anticipating a busy week.
"We've definitely got things to work on going into next week and a six-day turnaround... that was a demanding game," Trimble added.
"Hopefully there's enough life in us to go to Paris and put in a good performance."
Aside from both the result, and its effect on Irish chances of a historic third outright title in a row, Trimble thinks his province can take great pride from seeing Ulster teammate Rory Best lead out the side.
"Rory has led me personally for a long time, he's led Ulster for a long time," the Coleraine man reflected.
"We're very proud of him.
"Ulster as a province are so proud to have Rory in there as captain of Ireland.
"It means a lot to us that he's there and I thought he performed well today."