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Trimble Wants Ireland Back Where They Should Be

Trimble Wants Ireland Back Where They Should Be

Andrew Trimble’s calm demeanour belies a steely determination, one which has helped become an international player to reckon with and a very able wing replacement for the retired Denis Hickie.

Trimble is hoping to make the Irish number 11 jersey his own, although for Saturday’s Six Nations opener against Italy he will don the number 14 shirt as he takes over on the right wing from the injured Shane Horgan.

The Ulster favourite made his Test debut as a centre in November 2005 but with Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy seemingly unmoveable in midfield, his immediate future in the international arena remains as a winger.

His strike rate is a good one – eight tries in 19 outings in green, including three touchdowns in his last four games and a particular highlight being the one against the Azzurri last August at his province’s home ground.

This is Trimble’s third Six Nations championship so how does the Coleraine man assess the upcoming tournament – as a chance to put a less-than-memorable World Cup behind the squad?

“That’s it, you’ve hit the nail on the head there and I think we have to just put it behind us to the point where we don’t actually talk about it really anymore,” said the 23-year-old.

“We just want to look forward now and get that behind us. We will take some motivation from it certainly but from here on we are looking at the Six Nations and more particularly than that, we are looking at Italy.

“They have been a sticky wicket for us in the past and the Six Nations at the minute for us is all about Italy so we will see how we will go there.”

Ireland’s slump in form at the World Cup could not have come at a worse time, but Trimble, who has been named in the starting fifteen for the renewal of rivalries with the Italians, is relishing the prospect of getting the team back where they belong.

Asked about using the World Cup experience as motivation to get the side back on track, Trimble said: “The entire squad is eager to get back to Croke Park and let our rugby do the talking. I think during the last couple of months it’s all that has been talked about because we haven’t had the chance with much else.

“We just want to put things right and get us back to where we firmly believe we should be.”

The 2006 Ulster Player of the Year is quick to point out that Italy are no longer considered the whipping boys of the Six Nations, adding: “I think maybe some naive rugby supporters that wouldn’t regularly follow the game that much, would say something like that.

“I think that anyone who knows the Italians, knows the way they play and you see how much it means for them to play for their country as well and they bring that onto the pitch and play very intense Test matches. We are very much looking forward to that and taking them on.”

Ireland have locked horns with Italy twice in the past ten months but with a new coach in Nick Mallett, will the Azzurri have a few tricks up their sleeves?

“We don’t know as much about the Italians as we would like to but we have to take that through and it will be the same with the French as well,” Trimble admitted.

“The way we played against them last year in the Six Nations, scoring eight tries and putting 50 points on them, was an outstanding performance and then (in the Ravenhill game in August) we showed that how tough it can be when we make a few mistakes and we don’t get into our patterns and the way we like to play.

“If we produce a performance like Ravenhill this weekend, it could be a tough day for us. We want to be seen as a team that plays a lot going forward and creates a lot of confusion for the Italy defence. We want to carry that though this weekend.”

Speaking of Ravenhill, Trimble gave his honest views on what has been a frustrating season to date for Ulster and how important it is that he and a couple of his team-mates have been able to keep their places in the Ireland set-up.

“Things have been tough (with Ulster), to be honest. It’s very tough but with a new coach coming in now we have got a new drive and purpose, and have objectives and unfulfilled goals and such to take us through.

“The last few seasons we have gained a lot of confidence as individuals, the likes of Rory (Best) and Paddy (Wallace) as well will bring that through and use it in the Six Nations.”

Although part of the Team RBS Young Guns for 2008, Trimble is no longer the youngest member of the Ireland squad and he welcomes that fact.

“It’s great to have new faces in the squad. We are probably hitting the right sort of blend now between youth and experience with guys coming through. There’s a lot more competition for places which is great and that can only benefit the team,” he explained.