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Ulster's Andrew Trimble aiming to leave his heartache in the past

By Jonathan Bradley

For Andrew Trimble, it's high time to make some positive memories in Bordeaux. Ulster will visit the Stade Chaban-Delmas on Sunday to open their Champions Cup campaign and, for Trimble, it is akin to returning to the site of a crime.

With Irish internationals of a certain vintage, the port town will always bring back memories of the disastrous 2007 World Cup, a tournament that Eddie O'Sullivan's men entered as fourth favourites but ended up only struggling past the likes of Namibia and Georgia.

While Trimble scored a try against the former in the stadium he returns to this weekend, his first World Cup was an unmitigated disaster for the men in green and, in the subsequent inquest the team's base, described as "dismal" by Ronan O'Gara in his autobiography, was to the fore.

On an industrial estate in Bordeaux with food so bad that nutella sandwiches infamously became the order of the day, Trimble is hoping for a happier visit with Ulster this time.

"I try to look at the positives and it is a class place to play rugby," he said.

"It is an unbelievable stadium, big walk from the changing room up to the pitch which can make you a little bit nervous.

"The place was full when we played there. We played there before the 2011 World Cup as well so, yeah, there are some bad memories, but it is a good place to play," he added.

Sunday's opponents currently sit fifth in the Top 14, a win over Brive on Saturday their third in a row, and Trimble is expecting an entertaining game between two sides who enjoy to play with a certain style.

"Bordeaux are a decent team, they express themselves very well," he added. "They play with a decent bit of width, obviously (Ian) Madigan will be central to that so it is a big challenge.

"I think to get respect you have to go away from home and put in a big performance, concentrate on defence. It is a big challenge but we are up for it."

With a nine-day turnaround between last weekend's loss to Connacht and the trip across the Channel, Trimble is hoping to prove his fitness throughout the week in order to make his seasonal debut.

A persistent toe problem has kept him on the sidelines so far and, while frustrating, he stresses that the issue is unrelated to the problem that saw him miss 10 months in 2014/15.

"It is getting close," he said. "It's still week to week but I did a bit of running last week.

"No one is going to believe me, but it's definitely not (connected to the previous injury).

"It has been one thing to the next, there might be a bit of imbalance there but it is an independent injury and I am looking at it as that. It's been a bit difficult but I will get there."

The next fortnight carries a dual purpose for Trimble.

On the one hand, games against Bordeaux and then Exeter will be crucial to Ulster's European season, but the winger will also be looking to prove his readiness for Ireland's trip to Chicago to face the All Blacks.

"The opportunity to play the All Blacks, who you haven't beaten in 111 years of trying, it is in the back of your head but it is a few weeks down the line and you don't get there if you don't play well in the white shirt," said Trimble who was in camp with the national side last week.

"A couple of days together reminds you of how big an opportunity it is, how big a challenge it is. You come in and work hard but at this level skill is everything. Getting to that level, it is a bit extra."

  • Bordeaux-Begles v Ulster, Champions Cup Pool Five: Stade Chaban-Delmas, Sunday, 1pm

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