Sport Rugby

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Hungry Trimble eager to shed utility back tag

David Kelly

David Kelly

He's used to the caveats by now, the lingering question marks in supporters' minds. This week, Andrew Trimble has been mostly furrowing brows because he has edged Keith Earls out of the Irish team.

All this despite producing one of his best campaigns for Ulster last season, despite playing out of his skin against New Zealand and Australia with both a broken thumb and a groin strain.

Aided by painkillers, Trimble was one of Ireland's better players on that fruitless trip.

The problem for the genial Coleraine boy is that, when all of Ireland's flyers are fit, he usually forms an orderly queue behind Earls, Luke Fitzgerald and Tommy Bowe.

Were it not for Fitzgerald's absence during early 2010, he would not even have managed the solitary start, and that against Italy. His summer jaunt saw him start against a Tri Nations team for the first time in four years.


He has seen Bowe flee Ulster and become a superhero, no longer burdened by perennial provincial failure, nor indeed his role as merely a winger, as his experience in midfield with Ospreys has demonstrated.

Trimble has shifted inside before, as Brian O'Driscoll recalled earlier in the week, but shifting on from his native province has not yet become a career move of necessity for the 26-year-old; one senses that it resides in the back of his mind, though.

"It's something I'm definitely open to," he admits. "At the minute, I'm thinking about Samoa and if I get a chance to think about things, I'm open to everything.

"It's ideal in your head; you think if you go away you'll become a superhero like Tommy is ... I don't think I've ever heard Tommy described as a superhero before! It shows you what's capable when Tommy went.

"It's an option but not something I'm thinking about right now."

He relishes the competitive nature of his position, yet is equally wary of being stereotyped as a utility back, regardless of the easier access to squads that such a label tends to generate.

"Yeah, but in the past I maybe got a few caps when I wasn't really playing that well. I think to get an opportunity and really nail a place you have to be playing out of your skin now.

"You have so many guys younger than me and they are all playing class rugby. But that's just the way it is.

"There is a lot of competition for places and you have to be playing unbelievably well to get a chance.

"I know wing a lot better than I know the role of 13. I like the idea of being able to play a bit of both, but at the same time I don't want to become a utility back. I want to nail that spot and get that right.

"You don't want to be seen as a utility player but you want to be an option for the bench as well.

"But then again, utility backs tend to play on the bench, which would be fairly disappointing.

"It's an option and it's good to have two strings to your bow but I want to go after one position and get it right."

Irish Independent

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