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Andrew Trimble was worth a try

By Michael Sadlier

The room was already brimming with good humour when Andrew Trimble walked in but his arrival in the post-match zone seemed particularly poignant in terms of lifting the mood even further.

After all, the 29-year-old had assumed that his 50th cap, secured on last summer's Lions-depleted Ireland tour to North America, was probably as far as he was likely to be taking his international haul and, yet, here he was having managed to not only grab cap number 51 but to have scored his side's opening try and from pretty much his first touch.

"I think it was my first touch, a try with my first touch of the game," he said with much laughter before adding: "Someone else said that so I'll have to take his word for it."

His enthusiasm seemed like that of a first-capper rather than someone who's been around for a quite a while now but then Trimble was right to enjoy his moment – after all he has suffered much from not only previously playing for Ireland but then being studiously ignored despite his efforts for Ulster.

"I didn't expect to be selected for this game," the winger said with an understandable smile before rehearsing a familiar enough mantra regarding his usually low expectations over international involvement.

"Every time there is a team coming, I'd maybe be in the mix and I always hope that I will (make it)," he stated before realising what he was saying and putting a halt to all that.

"But look, I was delighted with this and it was a big opportunity and I just wanted to make sure I worked hard and got into the game and made an impact so I was happy enough with that."

And the try? His chance presented itself at a critical juncture just on half-time with Rob Kearney's pass releasing Trimble to get over the line.

"Me getting in the corner was pretty important and brought some reward for the plays that we were producing and pressure we were putting them under," he said.

"And I think it was important to go into half-time with the lead and we could build from that."

And build on it Ireland ultimately did with man of the match Jamie Heaslip's 45th minute try opening up an 18-6 lead and effectively ending the Scots' challenge.

For Trimble, it was wonderfully uplifting to be part of such a clinical performance – and one where he also contributed greatly with his kick-chase game and tackling – and also comforting to have four other Ulster players around him in the starting side, never mind Paddy Jackson and Iain Henderson on the bench.

"We were sitting in the tub after the game thinking 'when was the last time there were five Ulster players on a starting side?' I don't know," he added before being reminded that it was actually last year's corresponding fixture which, of course, Ireland contrived to lose.

"Yeah, well, it's great to have a few friendly faces there anyway," was Trimble's response. "And they've done it for Ulster in the past and you just know they can transfer that to Ireland."

He made special mention of Dan Tuohy stepping up so effectively after Paul O'Connell's early morning withdrawal.

"I think when you lose a leader like Paul, it's not that bad as from a leadership point of view we've got Jamie (Heaslip), Rory (Best) and Brian (O'Driscoll) and all these guys can and did have a big impact.

"But it was a great opportunity for Dan and I was really pleased to see him come out there and just physically do so well," he said before focusing again on the ebb and flow of the game.

"I think we weathered a bit of a storm and after 20-30 minutes into the game we got a bit of a foothold and then the forwards really stepped up and upped the intensity and ground them down.

"But there was so much work to do out there, it was hard going and really physical. You know Duncan Weir was probing those corners so you just had to make sure that you could cover that off."

Coming into this season – and even after the Autumn Series – with a raft of alternatives on the wing seemingly ahead of him in the queue, Trimble had banked his frustration and focused on working hard back at Ulster, with thoughts of Ireland merely whimsy on his part.

But a combination of injuries to others and coach Joe Schmidt's preference for an in-form player prepared to work his socks off had catapulted Trimble into the frame.

Now, though, he will have to wait to see whether he is in for the Wales game though leaving him out would seem highly unlikely.

"A lot of the things I model my game on, just the small details like working hard and having consistency and just even leg drive, line speed, defence, all these things I value and Joe values so I was always approaching this season quite positively," he said.

"Forcing errors and competing in the air, that's what we really have to base our game round and for me that was an opportunity to get a foothold in the game and make an impact.

"But I'm not going to try and second guess Joe," he said regarding the Wales game. "I didn't expect the last one but once you get it, it makes me even hungrier."

On this evidence, he really should be looking at a 52nd cap come Saturday.

Belfast Telegraph


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