Paul O'Connell and Andrew Trimble commit to June tour of Argentina
Ireland's Six Nations heroes Paul O'Connell and Andrew Trimble have handed head coach Joe Schmidt a boost ahead of the summer tour to Argentina – with both players pledging they will answer Ireland's call for the two-match June trip.
Ireland captain O'Connell's commitment is sure to sway the opinions of several other players despite Schmidt's intention to offer a number of his front-liners the option to skip the tour.
But O'Connell, who has missed successive pre-season preparations through injury, is anxious to keep playing as he looks to build up his fitness ahead of next year's World Cup.
"I want to go and play," said the 34-year-old, who missed the opening Six Nations win against Scotland with the flu but has otherwise been largely injury-free after an arm break ended his Lions tour last summer.
"I've had a frustrating few years in terms of injury and I've really enjoyed this season playing games consistently.
"I've enjoyed playing week in, week out. I've been really well managed by Ireland and by Munster. I feel very good and I'm looking forward to playing. You just get better and better when you're playing and if I can just have a good pre-season, I'll be in a really good place this year.
"So I'm eager to go. Games are better for me. My last pre-season was the pre-season before the World Cup which was 2011 and it's something you just can't underestimate getting that really hard conditioning into your body."
Meanwhile, Trimble, who celebrated being named the Hibernia College IRUPA Players' Player of the Year last night, has echoed O'Connell's commitment.
"I don't want this season to end," chirped the Ulster man, who virtually came in from the international wilderness to score three tries from the right wing during Ireland's successful spring campaign.
"From an Ulster point of view, Leinster have finished our last three seasons and there's so much to play for there. But I'd be delighted to be selected for Argentina and remain part of the squad that created so much history in the Six Nations. I want to keep hold of that jersey for as long as I can."