Saturday 10 December 2016

Trimble ready to play captain's role

'Easy decision' for winger to become Ulster’s co-skipper

Published 26/08/2016 | 02:30

David Trimble’s first priority is to nail down a regular starting place in the Ulster team. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
David Trimble’s first priority is to nail down a regular starting place in the Ulster team. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

He had suggested it at the end of the last season but it still came as something of a surprise when Rory Best relinquished the Ulster captaincy duties, yet Andrew Trimble didn't think twice when asked to take over.

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The experienced winger will share the responsibility with hooker Rob Herring but, as Trimble admits himself, he has a job on his hands to just get into the starting XV.

The competition for places in Ulster's back three is among the best in Europe, especially with the arrival of the mercurial former All Black Charles Piutau.

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Jared Payne, Tommy Bowe, Craig Gilroy, Louis Ludik, Jacob Stockdale, Piutau and Trimble will all compete with Piutau for starting berths, while Academy winger Robert Lyttle is also one to watch out for this season.

The captaincy dynamic should be fascinating, with Trimble fighting for his spot and Best assured of his place at hooker ahead of Herring. On the face of it, it seems like a unusual sub-plot, but Trimble is already seeking as much advice as he can.

"It certainly was an easy decision for me to make," Trimble said. "It wasn't something I'd been targeting or looking forward to.

"I wasn't sure if my role would be suitable for that sort of responsibility, but it's amazing how when someone suggests it to you - (Les) Kissy suggested it - I was 100pc keen to do it and really up for it.

"I've been pestering Rory for advice and information, basically just on how to be more like Rory really! The captains I've looked up to in the past - Brian O'Driscoll, Paul O'Connell, Rory, Johann (Muller) - it isn't easy to fill their shoes or try to emulate them.

"It's important to know that over the last few years, I'm obviously doing something right. My leadership style is maybe different to them, that's fine because I feel that it's maybe just as effective leading by example or providing a different angle on it."

Trimble has also become an important voice in the Ireland squad in recent times and earlier this week at Carton House, the focus on the upcoming two Tests against New Zealand was ramped up.

Read more: Leinster boosted by the return of Healy and Kearney

The All Blacks picked up where they left off after the World Cup by crushing Australia last weekend but having missed out on the heartbreaking defeat in 2013, Trimble is determined to be involved this time around.

"We looked at what they're doing at the minute, we were looking at what they did a year ago," the 31-year old explained. "The All Blacks are a side that can play 10 different ways and they're not a side that's easy to prepare for.

Daunting

"It's an even more daunting task when you've got to play them twice, so it didn't surprise me or any of the boys that there was a lot of homework squeezed into two days.

"It's really important that we go away and have thoughts on how we're going to beat them and how we're going about winning that game, approaching that game.

"The All Blacks are going to be playing plenty of games between now and then, so hopefully we'll be able to get a bit of an idea and go from there.

"From an Ulster point of view, whenever there's a fear factor, whenever you feel you're going away from home and everything has to fall into place for you to get a result or hang in there that produces a big, big display.

"It's important that we have an appreciation of how good this team is, but as well as that they are just 15 guys on a pitch and it's important that we know that if we perform as well as we can - as we did out here (the Aviva) a few years ago - we did everything but beat them out here, and who's to say we can't increase that performance level another 1 or 2pc.

"It's good to have that balance. To be daunted or just to have the right amount of respect for your opposition, but at the same time have a good level of self-belief and know how good we can potentially be."

Irish Independent

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