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Trimble back on the road to the top

Cian Healy is explaining the concept of 'Zorbing' — which appears to involve climbing into a giant plastic ball and rolling down steep hills. It is one of the many adrenaline-driven, adventure activities available on this trip, which are all very much to the liking of Ireland's young loose-head.

Andrew Trimble listens nearby and smiles at the impetuosity of youth. Zorbing wouldn't really be Trimble's thing. When he was in Rotorua, the winger used his downtime to take a drive in the country with Ulster and Ireland team-mate Isaac Boss and, since relocating to Brisbane on Australia's east coastline, Trimble has been taking in the sights of this pleasant city.

“Ach, there's lots to do in Brisbane, plenty to see, and the weather is good, so it's nice to go out for a dander,” says Trimble.

Dander?

“Oh sorry, it means to take a walk.”

This is not to portray Trimble as some kind of old fogey, far from it, after all he is still only 25. However, while Healy bounces around full of energy and wide-eyed enthusiasm on his first senior tour, Trimble carries a far more serene air. This undoubtedly can be linked to the winger's spirituality and commitment to Christianity and, in this regard, Trimble was particularly intrigued by the Maori people the Ireland squad encountered in New Plymouth and Rotorua.

“They are a fascinating people and a fascinating culture,” he enthuses. “I really enjoyed the Maori welcome we got although I didn't know what to make of it at first.

“Guys with sticks running around topless, screaming random words and almost hitting Drico with a spear and this is their welcome?”

As a Christian, Trimble is aware of the power of faith and, when we chatted in October, he spoke of his strong belief that he could resurrect his international career, which had been dormant since Eddie O'Sullivan's last game in charge — the defeat to England at Twickenhamback in 2008.

Having just emerged from a two-year battle with knee and groin injuries, Trimble was determined to use this season to re-establish himself as an international force. Injuries to left-wing rivals Luke Fitzgerald and Keith Earls certainly helped but Trimble, who started against Fiji last November and Italy in the Six Nations, has had a strong return to form and, when he got another opportunity against the All Blacks two weekends ago, he took it splendidly.

Although it was a grim night in New Plymouth with a 14-man Ireland ruthlessly dismembered by their hosts, Trimble was electric in everything he did and was only denied the try his performance deserved by the dubious intervention of the TMO.

Always known for his powerful, direct running, Trimble showed footwork and handling skills against the All Blacks that were a level above what we could recall previously, but he puts it down more to work done in the gym than any dramatic discovery of hitherto hidden abilities.

With all the difficulties that have beset this Ireland tour, it would be easy to see it as something of a 'Zorbing' experience — a wild career downhill, with no control over direction or velocity.

But that is to ignore the positives that have come out of this trip — primarily the development of fringe players and a more expansive game-plan.

Trimble is another positive and while the last two years did constitute a slide for the Ulster man, his latest dander is taking him in the right direction.

Back towards the top.

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