Comeback king Trimble looking for more after reaching half century
NOBODY likes rejection, but Andrew Trimble seems especially capable of getting over it and coming back stronger.
At various points in his Ireland career the Ulster winger has had to deal with an extended period of time out of the set-up, ignored by coaches.
Despite being in the form of his life this season, he has played just once for his country, winning his 49th cap against South Africa in November. He can't have imagined it would take so long for him to pass the '50' milestone, which he will in Toronto tonight.
There weren't many who could reflect with satisfaction on that day against the Springboks, but Trimble was the fall-guy and out he went.
He kept his head down and worked hard at his province, eventually earning the Player of the Year award and scoring 12 tries in a fine season.
But, still, the call never came from Kidney, as younger men like Craig Gilroy, Simon Zebo, Fergus McFadden, Keith Earls and Luke Fitzgerald were preferred.
Trimble can't understand why it happens, nor does he know why he is so good at bouncing back. He didn't plan on passing the milestone here – his dad even booked flights for the Lions tour and misses the occasion – but he is focused on impressing Joe Schmidt tonight as he returns to green.
"It wasn't really the way I envisioned (winning the 50th), but I got there in the end, so I'm really pleased," he admitted. "It's been a long season. There's been ups and downs, so to get my 50th, I'm absolutely delighted. I'm really looking forward to it.
"It's a one-off against Canada. I'd have loved for it to have been a Six Nations game or in the autumn, but this is my chance so I really want to take it."
Although Schmidt has been in and around the Ireland camp, Trimble hasn't been banging down his door to know where he stands.
"That definitely wouldn't be something I would do, to seek him out," he said. "I just want my rugby to be very uncomplicated. Play as well as I can, if I get picked. That takes everything else out of it."
He did talk to Kidney, but felt the responses were nothing he hadn't heard before. "I had one or two conversations with Declan throughout the season. I wouldn't want to say too much," he said. "I think I was fairly clear (on) what I had to do. But to be honest, whether it's (Les) Kissy, Deccie or Joe or whoever it is trying to tell me what I have to do to get in, they can really only tell me what I already know. I know my game better than anybody.
"I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses. It's just about working on things that I'm not so good at naturally and trying to build on the things I do well. Get my hands on the ball early and play with a lot of confidence.
"I think that's something that I've managed to do for Ulster and now the challenge is to transfer that to Ireland."
His ability to bounce back is a source of pride for the 28-year-old, who has been playing for Ireland since 2005. It hasn't been easy and there are young rivals coming through, but Trimble wants this to be his time.
"I don't know why that is. It's not the way I want to do things, but the fact is that it's ended up like that," he said. "I'm quite proud of myself, because I know it's difficult to come back whenever things aren't going well. I pride myself on being able to dig in whenever things aren't going the way I planned them.
"The tendency is to move on and bring the young guys through. I'm just very stubborn and want to get back in there, dig my heels in and make it as difficult as possible to be dropped, just be as competitive as I can. There are players coming through 22, 23. But I don't feel like I'm old. I feel like I should be moving into my prime.
"Maybe I've played the best rugby of my career last year for Ulster. Certainly it was one of the best seasons of my career. That's where I feel I'm at."