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Retired Trimble relishing new challenge as part of Premier Sports’ Ulster coverage


By Jonathan Bradley

Despite his retirement last season, Ulster fans will still see plenty of Andrew Trimble this coming year after the news that he will be part of the Premier Sports broadcast team.

The 70-times-capped Ireland winger, who hung up his boots earlier this year having pulled on the Ulster jersey more times than anyone in history, will be partnering up with the television company that is new to the Guinness PRO14 this season.

With BBC NI's long association with Ulster Rugby live games coming to an end, pay-to-view Premier Sports have committed to broadcasting all 152 games from the league this year, inking a three-year deal that will also include a highlights and magazine show.

With his fellow former Ulster and Ireland stalwart Tommy Bowe already confirmed as part of eir Sport's coverage of the league, and Stephen Ferris now a familiar face on our screens, Trimble is the latest recent Kingspan Stadium favourite to turn to the television scene.

"I feel privileged to have had such amazing opportunities and experiences as a rugby player," he said. "Now moving onto the next stage of my career, it's great that I can stay closely connected with rugby in Ulster and the Guinness PRO14 although from a different stage and perspective off the pitch.

"Premier Sports has some really exciting ideas and I'm looking forward to getting involved and working alongside an impressive team of presenters and commentators that are being brought together in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and who are really passionate about the game. I'm excited to be involved and to dip my toe into the water in the world of broadcast - a slightly different challenge, but it's still the game I love."

With the Ulster season starting against Scarlets in Belfast three weeks from today, there will certainly be a local feel to the new broadcast.

Mark Robson, a familiar voice after 15 years at Sky Sports saw him commentate on Heineken Cup, PRO14, Top 14 and international games, will be in the booth with Trimble, while Graham Little, of Sky Sports News fame, will be the sideline reporter.

Robson said: "I'm extremely excited to be at the sharp end of a new beginning for the Guinness PRO14 with Premier Sports and the chance to be able to focus on my home province made the opportunity irresistible.

"My dad first took me to watch Ulster when I was about 10. In those days Ulster played roughly five games a season and the crowd was in hundreds - they've been my team ever since.

"The fact that Premier is showing every game live is an incredible development for the PRO14 and puts the league very firmly on the front foot. I just can't wait to get started."

The presence of Trimble as a broadcaster rather than player come the September 1 opener will offer another reminder of how much has changed of late at Kingspan Stadium.

As well as Trimble and Bowe, Paul Marshall has also retired, while among the other high-profile exits are Charles Piutau, Callum Black and Robbie Diack.

Luke Marshall is out until the spring with injury, while Louis Ludik is due back only in November, but new signings include former Leinstermen Marty Moore and Jordi Murphy, as well as Premiership imports Billy Burns and Will Addison.

Wallaby international Henry Speight, who has signed a short-term deal until December 31, is due to arrive in Belfast next week. New head coach Dan McFarland is still awaiting approval from the SRU to start work with Ulster, while a new CEO is being sought to take over from Shane Logan who will finish his tenure this month.

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