Andrew Trimble was wholly relaxed as he faced the media at the team hotel in Killiney, south of Dublin, earlier in the week.
Tonight, with the Irish players and their entourage ensconced in the heart of the city, the Ulsterman who plays tomorrow on Ireland’s left wing is likely to be a little more excited as he reflects on what is at stake.
Trimble knows this would be a very good moment to show Declan Kidney and the Irish public some of the rugby of which he is capable.
The big incentive is inclusion in the team to face New Zealand next Saturday.
Trimble played against the All Blacks at Yarrow Stadium back in June when the hosts won 66-28.
He was on the pitch for the full 80 minutes, as again was the case two weeks later when he was retained for the clash with Australia at the Suncorp Stadium where the Wallabies won 22-15.
The 11-14 line-up in Brisbane was exactly the same as that which will represent Ireland tomorrow — Trimble, Paddy Wallace, Brian O’Driscoll and Tommy Bowe |respectively.
Of that quartet, only O’Driscoll and Bowe were chosen for last Saturday’s Guinness Series opener against the Springboks, Ireland’s first outing since losing to Australia.
Coach Kidney admitted that the two Ulstermen had been very close to being included, but that will have been of little consolation to Trimble, one of the few Irish players who did anything to enhance his status in the course of that ill-fated summer tour.
In the circumstances, he is very keen to state his case tomorrow. Since making his debut in November 2005, injury-enforced absences and omission have restricted his appearances. This will be his 30th cap, his 23rd as a starter. To date he has eight tries.
Last week he — like Wallace — was kept hanging on before |Keith earls finally got the vote for the one outstanding seat on the bench.
Not surprisingly, that left him feeling a bit gutted. It may also have contributed to his delight at events this time, a mood reflecting when he says: “I’m really, |really pleased; I can’t wait to get involved.
“Last week was fairly frustrating — 24th man, having to go through all the training, trying to get your head right in case you play and then fairly empty at the end. Very disappointing.
“But I’ve got my chance this week and I’m really looking forward to Saturday. I can’t wait to get involved. I hope to get my hands on the ball, just impose myself and hopefully take my |opportunity.”
He admits that his inclusion in recent times has come following a real scrap for recognition. Of late, caps have not come easily or regularly; when he has won one, he has earned it.
“In the past I maybe got a few caps when I really wasn’t playing all that well,” he reveals. “But to get an opportunity now I think you have really to be playing out of your skin.
“There are so many guys, and they’re all younger than me and they’re all playing class rugby!
“That’s just the way it is now. There is so much competition for places that you have to be playing unbelievably well to be given a chance.”
Having recently turned 26, he concedes that he is no longer coming in as a new kid on the block, a bright young thing about whom little is known.
“That’s true, but I don’t think it affects the way you play. You get out there and do everything you can to get a spot and to make the most of any opportunities that come your way,” he repeats. “I still want to get that place.”
He is a positive character, which is why he is pleased that this week Ireland have tried to take whatever pluses they have been able to extract from last weekend’s defeat by South Africa.
“It was a horrible night and I can’t speak for the guys who were out there. There were mistakes, of course, but I’m sure it was difficult to get into the game. It looked like that.
“But I think the last 10 minutes showed what we are capable of and hopefully that’s a sign of things to come.
“I’ve never really doubted the heart and spirit of the team and this (week) has maybe confirmed that again.”
Trimble’s physical appearance may come as a surprise to some tomorrow; currently he is growing a moustache as a fund-raiser for charity. Not very successfully, he adds with admirable self-deprecation, showing exactly “the heart and spirit of the team” he lauds in the others.
And tomorrow he hopes to show a Samoan or two a clean pair of heels.