Thursday 22 March 2018

'We need to beat Wales for ruining Paul O'Connell's Aviva farewell' - Andrew Trimble

Wales beat Ireland in Paul O'Connell's farewell game last August
Wales beat Ireland in Paul O'Connell's farewell game last August

Jonathan Bradley

Ulster hero Andrew Trimble is intent on helping Ireland exact revenge on Wales when the sides meet in Dublin in the Six Nations on Sunday.

The Irish start their campaign at the weekend determined to claim their third Six Nations title in a row, believing to achieve that ambition they have to triumph at the Aviva Stadium against the Welsh, who have become bitter rivals in recent years.

Wales were 16-10 winners the last time the nations played, spoiling Paul O’Connell’s final home international in a warm-up encounter for last year’s World Cup, after which the legendary lock retired from Ireland duty.

According to winger Trimble, Joe Schmidt’s team have not forgotten that defeat or other recent losses to Warren Gatland’s men and are keen to put the record straight.

“The last two years it hasn’t gone our way and that just naturally makes you more up for the next game. A lot of guys who played in the friendly in August before the World Cup will be remembering the disappointment in the game,” said Trimble.

“It was Paulie’s last opportunity to play at the Aviva and it didn’t go to plan.

“That was a disappointing afternoon for the boys. That makes the next encounter with Wales a bigger occasion and hopefully we’ll rise to it.”

Trimble added: “Over the last couple of years this massive rivalry has really developed between Wales and Ireland.

“That could make Sunday a big, big occasion and a big opportunity to get one over on them.”

"We've been on the receiving end the last few times but we're really excited about the challenge that's ahead of us. It's going to be very, very physical, the intensity is going to be through the roof and I think that's going to bring the best out of us."

Trimble is back in favour after missing the World Cup off the back of a 2014-15 campaign that was ended prematurely by a toe injury. Having worked his way back to fitness and match sharpness, he is relishing the return.

"I'm enjoying my rugby. I think a season out with a couple of injuries gave me a little bit of perspective and reminded me to make the most of every opportunity you get out there, whether it be in a white jersey or a green jersey," he said.

"I haven't had many opportunities in green so I'm really looking forward to this."

Expected to start on the wing, Trimble has highlighted the kicking game of opposing out-half Dan Biggar as one aspect of the Welsh game-plan that could pose problems for Ireland's back-three.

"It's going to take a lot out of us, but we're looking forward to it," he said.

"The amount of threats that Wales bring to the game, with their midfield, with their wingers, with their kicking game, with Biggar... there's going to be an awful lot of hard work to do in the back field with Biggar and his kicking game.

"He can pick out corners that not a lot of 10s can, so there's a bigger threat there from my point of view as a winger."

Trimble could be one of four Ulster players in Ireland's starting XV, with captain Rory Best a certainty and Jared Payne and Stuart McCloskey in the frame to play in the back line.

Sean O'Brien and Rob Kearney are the Irish injury doubts ahead of the eagerly awaited clash with Gatland's men.

Should flanker O'Brien miss out it would be a big blow to a pack already missing key performers such as the injured Ulster star Iain Henderson and Cian Healy, not forgetting retired former skipper O'Connell.

There are theories that Ireland could be overpowered in the forwards battle against the Welsh, who will be led by Sam Warburton, though forwards coach Simon Easterby has insisted that won't be the case.

Belfast Telegraph

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