Enjoying his current midfield role alongside Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll, Andrew Trimble has stepped confidently back into the international limelight. IrishRugby.ie caught up with the 23-year-old ahead of the game against Wales.
With experienced duo Shane Horgan and Denis Hickie having a stranglehold on the wing berths and centres O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy seemingly immovable, Trimble’s international development was slightly stunted despite a lightning start to his Test career.
The wider Irish rugby public first caught sight of the Coleraine man when he debuted at centre against Australia in November 2005. With three tries in his first three internationals, Trimble certainly made his mark.
Voted Ulster Rugby Player of the Year in 2006 – a year in which he scored Test tries against France, New Zealand and South Africa – he continued to look the part but Hickie won back the left wing berth for the 2007 Six Nations.
Despite his undeniable form with Ulster – he scored 10 tries in 19 games for the province last season – Trimble only started one Six Nations game, the opening 19-9 win over Wales, as Horgan and Hickie filled the wing slots.
Trimble fought his way back to start Ireland’s World Cup opener last September – scoring a try in the 32-17 victory over Namibia.
Roll on six months and the Ballymena clubman has literally taken centre stage, joining O’Driscoll in a new-look centre partnership after D’Arcy’s untimely arm injury against Italy last month.
Speaking at the team hotel in Killiney this week, Trimble outlined his goals for Ireland – winning the Six Nations and World Cup titles was mentioned. In the short term, he is determined to soak up every bit of information he can from the squad’s more experienced players.
“I’d be very ambitious. I know Rob (Kearney) is and Tommy (Bowe) is, and Lukey Fitz (Luke Fitzgerald) as well. We’re all guys that want to learn and develop and become leaders like the rest of the guys,” he explained.
“We want to eventually get to the point where we’re in their shoes and hopefully we can pass something on to younger guys as well.
“But we’re not there yet, we’re still learning and still developing and that’s something that’s been brought through and is becoming more apparent throughout the tournament and this year.
“Hopefully this is a transition point for us. I think the transition points are often the best points because you get that good blend of youth and experience – I know that’s a bit of a cliche but I think that’s very important that you get that.
“I think we’re starting to get that about right and not just in the backs, but in the forwards as well.”
Saturday’s game will be Trimble’s third Test match against Wales and having reviewed their recent games since Warren Gatland has come on board, he has been impressed by their form.
“England were exceptional in the first half against Wales. It takes a really good side to get out of that position and as much as the Welsh made a few mistakes, they made up for it and they did enough work to get out of it and especially away from home, that’s very difficult to do.
“You’ve got to take your hat off to them. They did a really good job that day and have done very well since against Scotland and Italy,” he added.
“They’ve changed their defence this year and they’re still extremely effective in defence. They put their opposition under a lot of pressure on the ball and that’s really good.
“With a new coach and everything changing they are still really, really effective in defence. We can admire that and take something from it but at the same time, look at it and analyse and exploit the weaknesses in it.”
Wales are a team that thrive on confidence, there is no doubt about that, but that fact will not make a difference to Ireland’s approach to the game according to Trimble.
“They can see how their confidence has grown (over the course of the tournament). I don’t think that that would change our approach to the game – whoever we’re playing against, whether they’re building confidence or not, we want to get stuck into them very early.
“Any team’s going to start doubting themselves if they’re going backwards for the first 20 minutes. That’s what we’re going to look to do (to Wales) and hopefully we’ll be able to set the tone for the rest of the game at that stage.”