Ulster’s Andrew Trimble has been rewarded for his willingness to stick at it in trying to regain his place in Declan Kidney’s Ireland team to face England on Saturday in the Aviva Stadium (5pm).
Conversely Luke Fitzgerald appears to have suffered for “trying too hard”, his number 15 jersey having gone to Keith Earls, whose switch from the wing to full-back created the left wing vacancy which Trimble now fills. Saturday will be the Ulster ace’s first start in this year's Six Nations Championship.
Jonathan Sexton has been given the out-half’s job, swapping roles with Ronan O'Gara who starts on the bench in this instance.
All being well, Sexton will be partnered by Leinster colleague Eoin Reddan. Yesterday the scrum-half was named provisionally at number nine having made good progress after suffering concussion when he was struck in the face with the ball in the first minute of last Saturday's match against Wales in Cardiff.
A neurologist will confirm whether or not Reddan is able to play. If not, Peter Stringer will be upgraded with Isaac Boss hot favourite to be drafted in as understudy should that happen.
Explaining his decision to include Trimble, Kidney said: “Andrew was showing great form coming up to the Six Nations. He was going really well for Ulster and then he picked up an unfortunate bang just before it.
“Fergus (McFadden) had been in the ‘A’ squad, got called in, played the first two matches and played very well in those.
“Then Andrew worked his way back in through training and played the Magners League matches.
“Fergus did very well in the first match (against Italy) and I had to say to Andrew in the lead up to the French match that Fergus had done well and taken his chance.
“But then over three or four weeks Andrew has fought his way back through matches with Ulster and in training with ourselves to justify his place.”
Fitzgerald, in contrast, has lost his as a result of not having done so.
“If Luke has made any errors recently it’s probably because he has tried too hard. He’s probably just been overstretching himself ever so slightly. I think his timing is a small bit off,” Kidney pointed out.
A delighted Trimble learned on Tuesday night that he would be starting, having been told of his inclusion ahead of yesterday’s team announcement at the Irish party’s Fitzgerald Castle Hotel retreat in Killiney.
“I want to be known as a player who can deal with whatever is going on. I want to be mentally tough and physically tough, get on with what I’m doing and try to let my rugby do the talking,” Trimble beamed.
“I think that if you continue to perform reasonably well, as I feel I have been doing, then you’ll get your chance.
“Now it’s up to me. After this weekend, if things don’t go well, then there will be no point in me complaining.
“I’m being given a chance and it’s up to me to take it.”
Like everyone else in the camp he is convinced the best is yet to come from this Ireland team.
“I definitely feel there’s loads more in us than we have shown.
“Against England at the Aviva on Saturday we have a chance to spoil their Grand Slam party and hopefully put a few wrongs right,” Trimble said.
K Earls (Munster); T Bowe (Ospreys), B O'Driscoll (Leinster, capt), G D'Arcy |(Leinster), A Trimble (Ulster); J Sexton (Leinster), E Reddan (Leinster); C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), M Ross (Leinster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), P O'Connell (Munster), S O'Brien (Leinster), D Wallace (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster).
Replacements: S Cronin (Connacht), |T Court (Ulster), L Cullen (Leinster), |D Leamy (Munster), P Stringer (Munster), R O'Gara (Munster), P Wallace (Ulster).