Sunday 4 December 2016

Trimble hails Jackson as player who can make Ireland tick

Published 24/11/2016 | 02:30

Trimble: “When we were in South Africa we got that big win and it was ground-breaking stuff.
Trimble: “When we were in South Africa we got that big win and it was ground-breaking stuff." Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Just when you felt that there had been enough brutality suffered by the Irish for one afternoon, Jamie Heaslip was advocating still more this week.

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For all the history of Chicago, last Saturday represented grim reality; defeat this week to Australia would end a second successive international campaign on a distinct downer.

"I don't like losing," he muttered darkly. "I don't think anyone in our squad likes losing. If they did, they'd be getting a boot up the arse to be honest."

As if there aren't enough bumps and bruises amongst his battered squad. Andrew Trimble is rather more polite but the dilemma remains the same.

"We can either become a side that only every now and again beats these teams," he argues, "or we can become a side that consistently performs and consistently beats the best teams in the world. Because that's where we want to be.

"When we were in South Africa we got that big win and it was ground-breaking stuff. It was a first for an Irish team and we were very proud of what we accomplished but we didn't kick on.

"Ultimately, the feeling at the end of the tour was disappointment and at the end of this series, if we don't kick on that will be probably the same feeling.

"So now it has to be all about the way we kick on because we want to be consistently good against the world's best."

The desperation to attain such a status often requires desperate measures; CJ Stander's availability remains, to some of us, a serious warning about the sport's attitude to concussion.

At least Jonathan Sexton will not be risked, whatever about Stander and Rob Kearney - who had his own concussion issues last weekend.

Paddy Jackson began to assert himself in South Africa as a viable out-half alternative now that Ian Madigan is in exile and Ulster colleague Trimble fully endorses his team-mate to fill the void.

"Absolutely. He stood in and I thought he performed unbelievably well in South Africa. A lot was asked of him and he answered every question.

"I expect more of the same from him. I have been in a position where I have seen him week in, week out for the last few years.

"He is a guy who really makes our team tick for Ulster and he is starting to become a player who makes Ireland tick as well.

"He is the heartbeat of Ulster, you could say he is our most important player. He makes us play, he demands standards, what he does for Ulster Johnny does for Leinster, demanding standards.

"He makes sure we are competing at the right level and playing in the right places, challenging defences as well.

"I think the world of him and he has an outstanding character. He is a tough wee fellow now, he is physically and mentally resilient."

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