MAKING HIS FIRST Six Nations start since March 2012, Andrew Trimble accepted his try on the stroke of half time with glee.
His most recent international five-pointer had come against Canada last summer, but scoring in a high-stakes clash against Scotland felt far more vital. The 29-year-old says he had to work hard to maintain his composure as he realised that the opportunity was coming his way.
A few phases before I thought we were starting to go forward. We were cutting their defence, getting round the corner and had a decent shape, so I was getting pretty excited. I was just trying to keep calm and get over the line.”
That he did, with that try rounding out a decent afternoon’s work that saw Trimble carry the ball five times for 35 metres of gains. The Ulster man beat one defender and completed two passes along the way, although he did cough up possession on two occasions.
Defensively, the first impression was that Trimble was solid, although Accenture‘s official match stats tell us that he completed three tackles and slipped off two against Scotland. The Ballymena clubman freely admitted that he had felt the pace on his return to the international fray, having missed out on the November Tests.
“It’s difficult , today I’m the most knackered I’ve been in a long time. Test rugby is just another step up and today was certainly that.”
Having been “surprised” to hear his name in the starting team last week, Trimble is aware that the possible return of Luke Fitzgerald may threaten his place for the clash with Wales. That scenario will not occupy the Ulsterman’s thoughts however, as he points out that “it’s not me who picks the team.”
Trimble is a willing and able chaser of box kicks and garryowens. ©INPHO/Colm O’Neill.
Having been omitted in November, how exactly has Trimble worked his way back into the Ireland team? One of the key factors has been the implementation of pointers from Joe Schmidt and improvement in the areas that the Kiwi has demanded it.
“You get plenty of feedback. Loads, loads and loads of feedback. A lot of feedback you’re maybe not keen on hearing sometimes but it’s good for my game and it’s good for the rest of the boys.
Is Schmidt’s feedback more frequent than other coaches?
Certainly coaches that I’ve worked with. He observes a lot more than a lot of coaches. He picks up on lines of running, body shape at ruck time, covering the back field. As a winger, you’ve a lot to worry about.
“Anything you do on the pitch, or if you make a mistake, you don’t get away with it with Joe.”
As Ireland develop under the New Zealander, it becomes increasingly obvious that Schmidt’s attention to and demand for detail will need to be balanced by a maintained focus on motivation levels.
Trimble agrees that getting the game plan right is important, but stresses that Ireland remain concentrated on what the green jersey really represents.
“I think it’s important to have the combination of both. Cool heads, making sure we know exactly what we’re doing. The game plan is massively technical, but we know it like the back of our hands because
we’ve rehearsed it all week.”
“That’s a given. We put that to one side, then we talk about how special a Six Nations weekend is and getting into it. Playing for Ireland means the world to everybody.”
- Additional reporting by Sean Farrell.