AS PART OF our research on the 56-cap midfield partnership of Gordon D’Arcy and Brian O’Driscoll, it came as a bit of a surprise to see Andrew Trimble’s first Ireland cap came in the 13 jersey, way back in 2005. The Ulster man, now firmly ensconced as Ireland’s right winger, was one of the many players to keep O’Driscoll’s jersey warm before stepping aside when he returned.
In his 49 Test caps, before Joe Schmidt’s arrival, Trimble played 13 times in the Irish midfield and came off the bench, against the USA, at fullback in the 2011 World Cup. A veteran of the international scene, the 29-year-old was rarely afforded a consistent run in the green jersey.
Much as Simon Zebo and Tommy Bowe must have felt in recent weeks, Trimble’s provincial form did not always coincide with a call-up to the Irish team. While there may be a snap tendency to criticises Declan Kidney for not eeking out enough of Trimble’s innate talent, the winger readily admits he under-performed in the green jersey for many years. He is now working under a coach that has rewarded him for embracing the team ethic and working within the Irish game-plan.
Asked what coaching techniques he used to bring out the winger’s potential, Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said, “To be honest, Andrew Trimble got the best out of himself. He worked really hard. The three of us [Irish coaching staff] are privileged to have a group that get the best out of themselves.
“I know I’ve said it before but it is, genuinely, a player-driven environment and an incredibly supportive one too.”
Trimble performed well in each of Ireland’s five, championship-defining games. He showed up in the right place at the right time to puncture Scotland, was supreme in the air, and harrying on the ground, against Wales. England’s back three outshone their Irish counterparts at Twickenham but the winger was close to a first half score and pitched into an almighty battle when needed. He showed up on the left wing to get another, vital try at home to Italy and raced in a fine score at Stade de France.
During the championship — aside from his four tries — Trimble made six clean breaks and beat 12 defenders. He averaged 61 metres gained. His aerial commitment — either winning balls or putting off the opponent — was impressive and he put in some big tackles in defensive mode.
It all could have been different for Trimble had Bowe [or Keith Earls] returned from injury to feature in any of Ulster’s RaboDirect Pro12 games ahead of schedule. Instead, Bowe scored two tries on his comeback against Dragons but was restricted to training runs with Trimble & co. at Carton House. The summer tour to Argentina may prove an opening for the likes of Bowe and Earls to show Schmidt they can work to his plans. Trimble will surely be on the phone to Schmidt telling him he is willing and able to delay his holiday plans for the Tests against Los Pumas.
*Voting, coincidentally, for the Six Nations player of the tournament concludes at midnight tonight. Trimble is one of six Irish players nominated. You can register your vote here >>>