Ulster's Andrew Trimble vows to beat injury as he targets Six Nations
Ulster's Andrew Trimble was on hand to open the new playing field at Aquinas Grammar School yesterday but admitted that it is the grass of the adjacent Kingspan Stadium where he longs to be. The 30-year-old has been out of action since suffering a toe ligament injury against Glasgow Warriors at the start of October and there is still no definite timetable for his return.
At the south Belfast school alongside team-mates Louis Ludik and Michael Allen, as well as the likes of Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín and Lord Mayor of Belfast Nichola Mallon, the 57-times-capped Ireland international said of his injury: "It's one of those things. It's frustrating and it will be a while but I'll keep going.
"I've been lucky for a long time so it was going to catch up. I'll see the consultant in three weeks and then I'll probably get an idea."
The ailment has led to the recently named Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Player of the Year missing out on Ulster's opening pool games in the European Champions Cup, defeats to both Leicester and Toulon, and also Ireland's autumn series.
Having starred throughout the Six Nations triumph this year, Trimble would surely have been involved in the victory over South Africa two weeks ago, as well as the concluding Test of 2014 against Australia on Saturday, and it has been difficult watching his team-mates in action.
"It's tough watching but I'm delighted to see the boys do so well.
"Obviously it was a big performance against South Africa and you're sort of torn between being so pleased for the boys and being so disappointed that you couldn't be there."
On a possible return in time for the 2015 Six Nations, he added: "Hopefully. It could be tight, but I'm not really sure. I'll find out in three weeks.
"I'll know when I can start running but even at that stage it could be any length of time after that."
Trimble - who like Rory Best and Tommy Bowe is represented by Esportif after their merger with Corner Flag Management earlier this year - is out of contract at the end of this season but, despite currently being out of action, he is keen to have his future resolved.
"It's tough (preparing for contract negotiations when injured) but hopefully it will be straightforward enough to get sorted," he confirmed.
The new pitch at Aquinas Grammar, backed by DCAL funding of £560,000 and £150,000 from Belfast City Council, will see pupils share the facilities with Ulster's stars, who train there during the week.
The pitch can be accessed directly from the Kingspan Stadium and will form a participatory element of the new education tours that will begin next year upon the opening of the new Nevin Spence Centre.
Chief Executive Shane Logan said: "This is a fantastic shared facility that has enormous benefits to Ulster Rugby, Aquinas and the local community.
"It means that our team has access to world class training facilities right on its doorstep and it will be a great resource to our players.
"I would like to thank the DCAL Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín, as well as Belfast City Council for funding this project and to our neighbours, Aquinas, for partnering with us so successfully on this top-class sports facility."