Andrew Trimble: From 'dogsbody' to the front line
After waiting in the wings, Andrew Trimble is ready to take his chance
Andrew Trimble's return to the Ireland team could not have come under more challenging circumstances.
After missing the first four Six Nations assignments, Trimble's reintroduction to the left wing is not exactly a baptism of fire but going up against a Grand Slam-chasing England side, directly opposite their try-scoring phenomenon Chris Ashton, is a severe test of his readiness for international combat having not featured since the dogged win over Argentina last November.
Is he fazed by the call-up? Not a bit of it. Enthusiasm is the overriding emotion in the Ulster man ahead of tomorrow's showdown -- boosted by the fact that, after strong performances by Ireland wingers Keith Earls and Tommy Bowe in the frustrating defeat to Wales, Trimble didn't see it coming.
"This is the first week I've been in camp that I didn't really have any hopes of being involved, and then it's the week that I get picked," said Trimble, smiling.
"It was very frustrating for myself, not getting involved. You're just holding bags and being a bit of a dogsbody trying to get the team ready. That's the way it should be, but for me now to get involved, it's very exciting.
"As far as my form's been, I've been very pleased. I was quite confident coming into camp initially, and then, obviously, I broke my hand at the end of January," added the 26-year-old.
"It was unfortunate timing, and once you are out it's quite difficult to get back in there. I'm delighted to get a chance now. I was getting a rub the other night and I saw Declan (Kidney) having a chat with Earlsy, so I wondered what was going on ... and I was trying to listen in!
"Then, on the way to training I heard a bit of a whisper that Earlsy was moving to full-back so I was reasonably enthusiastic about my chances, but trying to keep a lid on it as well."
As for Ashton, Trimble has a healthy respect for the winger who he is likely to face again when Ulster square off against Northampton in their Heineken Cup quarter-final at Milton Keynes next month, but has no plans to man-mark the former rugby league star when he cuts infield.
"He has scored a lot of tries; he has caused a lot of havoc for defences, he's tough, he's hard, he's fast and he's elusive," reflected Trimble. "He is that sort of player you've got to keep an eye but at the same time England have 14 other threats.
"Those trail lines everyone seems to be talking about, the 'Ashton line' or whatever, he comes from the inside so it's 10, 12 and 13 in defence (who deal with him). If it is going to be a threat, just keep your wits about you. I'll certainly do whatever I can to nullify that threat. He's a quality player.
"Dougie Howlett is a guy who always, always works hard and gets on the inside of any break," said Trimble when asked for Ashton comparisons. "If you are living off the good play of other guys, you anticipate them making a line break out wide and get on the inside.
"It's not rocket science, it's just working hard for your team-mates. It's your attitude more than anything specifically, and that attitude of getting there first is something I can take. I'm not going to be man-marking Ashton. I think you can concentrate too much on Ashton and get broken elsewhere."
It promises to be a hell of a contest and Trimble's eagerness for the battle to commence is forged in the frustration he felt in his bit-part role over the past seven weeks.
"It is difficult not to feel like a small bit of an outsider when you are not involved," he admitted, "like travelling to Cardiff as the 24th man. You try your best, and Declan and the team try their best to involve you, but you know after the warm-up you're going into the shower and getting your tracksuit back on.
"Whenever I am not picked I want to make the most of every day that I've got between then and selection next week, whether I'll get back up to play for Ulster or work on skills. You completely forget that there is a game for Ireland that weekend. It's very difficult to keep going through the week when you know you are not involved. The buzz goes out of you."
The buzz is back.