ANDREW TRIMBLE believes Ireland's Six Nations campaign was not a true reflection of their worth as a squad and says the players have to use the hurt of Saturday's 30-9 loss to England as a positive.
Declan Kidney's side only managed home victories over wooden spoon contestants Italy and Scotland and were unable to see off Wales and France after putting themselves into winning positions. The St Patrick's Day humiliation against England ensured the 2012 Six Nations will be remembered as a big disappointment and Trimble (left), who started all five matches on the wing, admitted there is no escaping from that fact.
"It is defined by how poor we were (against England)," said Trimble. "Two wins and a draw I don't think is good enough for us, we are a lot better than that.
"We underachieved, we let our heads drop a little bit against England and that game will affect the judgment of the tournament.
"Bits and pieces could have gone our way that didn't, but you have just got to deal with it and get on with it. We didn't cope with a few things that well, we are a better team than we showed in this Six Nations."
Rory Best captained the side in the absence of Brian O'Driscoll and Paul O'Connell and is said to have spoken powerfully to the squad immediately after the game.
While Trimble would not reveal exactly what his Ulster colleague said, the message from the camp now is to use the hurt of Twickenham as a motivating factor ahead of the summer tour to New Zealand.
"Rory is a leader and he is very honest and what he said was significant," said Trimble.
"Everybody took it on the chin and we have to go away and we have to hurt from it a little bit. I think that hurt might help us when we get back together for the tour.
"It is always tough when you get beaten the way we got beaten on Saturday.
"Fair play to England, they had a plan and put the squeeze on us and never really let go. When we did get the ball, we knocked it on and made mistakes and tried to force the game.
"It is difficult now, especially when we haven't got games to look forward to and we will be hurting badly until then.
"It is going to be very difficult for the next while, but we have to use that hurt in the right way."
The Ireland squad have a break before returning to provincial duty and Trimble says he is looking forward to recharging the batteries ahead of Ulster's Heineken Cup quarter-final showdown with Munster next month.
"That's the next big game that I have to look forward to. There's a few boys looking forward to a few days off and a bit of a break, getting away, get a bit of sunshine.
"I think a break would be good and then come back with the provinces and start again, get into Ulster and slot back in there. There will still be a tough few weeks ahead.
"All of these experiences, you have to come away from them with a positive attitude."