Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Trimble ready to repay faith

Ulsterman Andrew savours getting his teeth into French fancies

If there is one player who won't be intimidated by the cauldron at the Stade De France tonight, it is Andrew Trimble.

The stakes couldn't be higher for Ireland. Having laboured to narrow victories over Namibia and Georgia, Eddie O'Sullivan's side are now effectively in the World Cup's last chance saloon.

Defeat without a losing bonus point in Paris tonight and Ireland would have to beat Argentina by four tries and a big margin of victory while stopping Los Pumas getting a losing bonus point to stay alive.

The massive carrot for the Irish however is that victory tonight, however implausible that seems on the evidence of current form, would knock the hosts, having already lost to Argentina, out of the tournament.

Trimble is one of three changes to Ireland's starting line-up, returning to the left wing this time having missed the Georgia match with a broken finger.

Dropping the hugely experienced Denis Hickie, who was erratic against Namibia but improved against Georgia, for Trimble was a massive call by O'Sullivan.

A man of great personal faith, the 22-year-old is ready to repay the coach in deeds tonight against France. And excitement, not fear, is his over-riding emotion.

"It was extremely disappointing that a tiny fracture in my finger meant that I missed a Test match in the World Cup but to get back in is really exciting," said Trimble, who has now scored eight tries in just 18 caps, a potent record.

"It is a massive, massive game. The biggest of my career.

"It is great that Eddie has put a lot of faith in me. He is very faithful with selection and I don't think I have had a performance that merited me being dropped or not involved.

"Perhaps another coach would not have put me back in after my injury. That would have been the easy option. But I am pleased that Eddie has put that trust in me and I will back that up tonight."

Trimble doesn't know how he sustained the finger but it happened as early as the fifth minute in the victory over Namibia.

"I watched the tackle I made on the video," he added. "It was just a normal tackle and I couldn't see what happened. I was pretty painful but there was no way I was coming off.

"It was only after the match when the team doctor Gary O'Driscoll said to me to get it X-rayed that we became away of the extent of the injury. He thought there was only a small chance of a crack but it turned out to be the case."

He has played at the Stade de France, coming off the bench for his Six Nations debut in 2006, and scoring a try off the shoulder of Brian O'Driscoll in the process.

And he believes Ireland can defy their wretched form of late and rediscover themselves against a French side that looked devastating in their 13-try romp against Namibia but still carry the huge burden of knowing tonight is do-or-die for them.

"Against Georgia, we kept our shape well and got into the patterns we were looking to get into but a lot of balls went to ground and a lot of passes were dropped or went behind guys," he added. "A better team than Georgia would have made us pay. It was criminal.

"But we have approached tonight's game slightly different than we have the last couple of weeks and hopefully that will make a difference.

"There is a lot of pressure on us but also on France and it is maybe not a bad thing for France to write us off. And the other positive of the last two weeks is that France really don't know us. The real Ireland hasn't stood up."